Written by Lyn Dobrin, Editorial@AntonNews.com Thursday, 02 May 2013 00:00
Sixty bicycles are on their way to Ghana to help people get to school and work thanks to the support of Long Islanders. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Long Island joined forces with the children and teen programs of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island for their 9th annual collection of donations of used bikes for Pedals for Progress, a program that rescues unwanted American bicycles and sends them to communities overseas.
Two local students, Gabrielle Stanley, 14, a ninth grader at Clarke High School in Westbury, and Jordan Schroeder, 11, who attends Hicksville Middle School, were on hand to prepare the bikes for shipment. Both are members of the Ethical Society.
Said Gabrielle, “The jobs you can help out with at the bike collection are really simple and easy. Even doing the smallest amount of work is still helping people who don’t have reliable forms of transportation. Also, helping out at events like these let you contribute to your community, which feels better than sitting at home watching TV.” Jordan agreed. “It felt good to help rebuild the bikes for people in other countries who don’t make as much as us.”
In recent years Pedals for Progress has shipped 25,450 bikes to Nicaragua and 5,833 to Ghana, as well as thousands of bikes to Guatemala, Uganda and El Salvador. In many countries, having a bicycle can have a critical effect on whether or not you are able to get to a job or school; it has been found that income goes up 14 percent when a family has a bicycle.
Bette Bass, co-coordinator of the Long Island collection, served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia in the 60s when traveling just a few dozen miles could sometimes be an all-day effort. When she returned to Ethiopia last September, she discovered that while there were many changes, owning a car was still out of the reach of most people. “I am pleased to think about all of the places that our bikes were making a difference in people’s lives,” she says.
Pedals for Progress also promotes bicycle repair businesses in the developing world. A community owned non-profit bike store will get its first containerized cargo shipment for free (about 450 bicycles); that repair store then has to earn enough money selling the repaired bikes to pay for the next shipment.
To find out more about Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Long Island, call Kathy Williams Ging at 631-549-4873; for information about the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, call 516-741-7304.