Bike Town Africa donates bikes to health workers in African villages, enabling them to cover more ground and see more patients. The program is led by Kona, a bike manufacturing company: biketownafrica.com.
In the last two years, Christine George, a former Virginia Tech student, has helped raise $18,000 for the program, and recently she traveled to Mozambique to help build the bikes she supplied.
Why is it important to get these bikes into the hands of health care workers in remote African villages?
Because the bikes make a huge difference in so many people’s lives. The health care workers usually have to walk to see their patients, traveling from village to village. The bikes allow them to see five to eight times more patients in a day. Instead of just seeing a few patients a day, they’re seeing 15 or 20. Spread that out over a year, and you begin to see what a difference a simple bike can make. A $100 donation gets one bike into the hands of a health care worker. The return on that investment is huge.
You actually went to Mozambique and helped build the bikes too.
We assembled 250 bikes in two days. It gave me a chance to interact with the community and the health care workers who would benefit from these bikes. We put the word out inside the community that we were looking for help putting the bikes together. The next day, we had 40 people waiting to build these bikes. We worked in teams of five, and there was only one translator who spoke the language. It was intense.
What sort of bikes does Kona provide?
They’re really simple and durable, to make them as sustainable as possible. The conditions over there are difficult. The roads aren’t paved, so they’re biking over roots, thorns, shrapnel. And the normal triangle bike frame wouldn’t work because most of the health care workers are women who wear long skirts. They won’t hike up their skirts to pedal a bike, so Kona had to design a step-through frame.