Old bikes to Africa

This article was published in 2016, in Newsletter 124.

Students at Glad’s House in Mombasa
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Our old bicycles can play a significant part in the success of Glad’s House in Mombasa – a charity which helps a handful of the city’s 35,000 street kids to reclaim their lives by offering education, health and social support. They serve a daily meal, provide a place to wash, help with drug addiction and run classes and training, as well as enabling some children to reconnect with their families. In 2014 they supported 1,869 youngsters.

I was there recently, on location in the making of a short film, ‘Mdudu Boy’. Some of the boys were cast as footballers, and after filming we took a look around the project. Just off a chaotic suburban street, beyond a strong metal gate, lies a haven of order, discipline and industrious tranquility. There, an open-fronted workshop provides young apprentices with the skills to become bicycle repair mechanics.

A container-load of bikes and a workshop at Glad’s House.
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Not only does this provide these youngsters with an income, but excess profits are ploughed back to support the running costs of Glad’s House and there’s the extra benefit of the readily available bikes, which can help street children to set up small businesses.

Glad’s House get their bikes free from Re-Cycle, a UK-registered charity committed to providing cheap, sustainable transport in Africa. They collect thousands of unwanted bicycles each year and ship them to Africa where they are repaired and sold at an affordable price to local families and farmers. A bicycle radically reduces the time spent walking to school, work or gathering firewood and is often the only reliable form of transport on rough roads and tracks.

Students in Mombasa (left) and Sawston (right)
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Glad’s House have so far received just over 3,500 old bikes and need a steady flow to continue their work. So if you have an old bike lying in a shed or received a new bike for Christmas and have your old one to dispose of, please consider donating it to help children in Africa.

To donate a bike to Re-Cycle please visit their website: www.re-cycle.org or call their office on: 01206 617865

The nearest collection point to Cambridge is at OWL Bikes, The Bike Shed, Unit 27A London Road Industrial Estate, Pampisford CB22 3EE (open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm; tel: 01223 839580).

Katy van Haeften