Last night I began to dream. I dreamt of Namibia, which is not common for a boy that has his heart set on Kenya. But, every once in awhile, one needs to broaden their vision and realize that there are millions upon millions of others in need outside of Kenya and even Africa. I had spent the evening with some of the people I love and cherish, viewing the lives of Namibians whose lives were changed by something so minute to us Americans. It was something so affordable to us, but like a Mercedes Benz to them. It is one thing that if we stepped up, could change their lives forever. Step into the world of someone who I created it my own imagination, but is just as real as any Namibian.
My name is Edward. I am nine years old and I am from Namibia. I walk to school every day with my sister. Sometimes my friends join me, but, sometimes they have to stay home to work. We wake up early in the morning to get water for my mother. Sometimes it takes so long to get water that, like my friends, we miss school.
I don’t go to school by bus. We walk. It takes us one hour to get to school, but I know for some it takes longer. When it rains, we sometimes wait under a tree or bush until it ends. Sometimes we are then late for school.
Our school does not provide a meal at lunch so sometimes we have to decide if we want to eat that day or go to school. Sometimes I have to leave during lunch to take my mother to the city.
I have big dreams. I love arithmetics and I love soccer. I want to be a teacher and a professional soccer player.
The story of Edward is the story of millions. As you can see, there are so many barriers that prevent him from having a quality education and could prevent him from a successful career. His life could be forever changed with a bike. Imagine for a minute what all he could accomplish with a bike. He could fetch water in the morning with enough time to spare to ride his bike to school. He could beat an oncoming storm and not have to wait for the rain to pass. He could go home for lunch and return for afternoon class. When school is not in session he can help his family and friends with transporting goods.
To be quite honest, a charity around bicycles did not have its initial charm on me. It is no TOMS shoes. You don’t receive anything in return other than a tax write-off and a happy heart. This is where charities need to be. It is not about us getting anything it is about us giving everything so people can gain. This is what I have discovered over the years of serving Bicycles for Humanity, 410 Bridge and Redefined Response.
Last night I saw what a bike really does for the life of an African. Bicycles for Humanity reaches out beyond Namibia and is spreading like a grassfire. Ben Stiller has even caught on to the heart of the campaign and is helping publicize. But, again, it is not about the stardom of us receiving anything. It is about us having less so people can have more.
We out grow our bikes quite rapidly as we grow up. Many people let their bikes sit in the garage for years, never touching them and allowing the wheels to rot. Imagine how many lives could have been changed in the years our bikes waste away in storage. My hope is that if you haven’t ridden your bike in a six months, give it up to someone who will use it every day. Use it or lose it!
In the coming months Bicycles for Humanity – Atlanta and Alpharetta chapters will be organizing Bike Drives and other fundraisers. I encourage you to help us out and bring your bike or those you know who are willing to give them up.
Check out our Bicycle for Humanity Georgia Chapters: