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Zambia and the art of bicycle maintenance

03 Feb 2010

Zambia and the art of bicycle maintenance Image

Docklands is playing a role in a project that will greatly improve the lives of hundreds of poverty-stricken Zambians.

Local resident Warren Mills is involved in a plan to equip and train Zambians as motor mechanics. As a first step, some 350 bicycles are being sent to Africa in a few months time directly from where they are being collected in Docklands.

Thanks to VicUrban, the unrestored southern section of Docklands’ historic Goods Shed No 2 is currently home to about 250 donated bicycles.

Mr Mills explained that bicycles were a perfect starting point in a culture where mechanical maintenance was a foreign concept.

“When we were in Zambia last year we realised that our plan to build a mechanical workshop and train truck and heavy equipment mechanics was just too ambitious. The concepts are just not understood,” Mr Mills said.

“Bicycles are so much more practical at this stage,” he said. “And when we got home we were introduced to Matt McCullough and his Bicycles for Humanity program.”

Mr McCullough last year sent a container of bicycles to Namibia and has now agreed to join forces with Mr Mills’ group and send the next batch to Zambia.

The bicycles are being sent to an AIDS orphanage in the Serenje-Chibobo district of Zambia where they will be repaired by locals who have already been trained both in mechanics and small business management.

Mr Mills said the bikes would not be given away. Rather, people wanting them will firstly be trained in bicycle maintenance and would then be sold a bicycle.

“The last thing we want to do is create a dependence,” Mr Mills said. “There has to be a value associated with it.”

The funds will be used to provide education for the orphans and to introduce them to technology, finance and employment.

Readers wishing to help can donate bicycles through any Bicycle Superstore or give cash via http://www.bicyclesforhumanity.com.

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