A bike collection day is being held March 7 to collect bicycles for Karamoja Bicycle Initiative in Uganda.

Bike donations sought

A bicycle collection day is being held at the Merecroft Village Shopping Centre parking lot on Saturday, March 7

For over four years, clients of Island Joy Rides have used bicycles to enjoy beautiful Vancouver Island cycling tours.

Now the owners, Laurel Cronk and her husband, Dr. Richard Cronk, have joined forces with the Comox Valley Chapter of Bicycles for Humanity to collect up to 500 fat tire adult bicycles in good working order, parts and accessories in support of the Karamoja Bicycle Initiative in northeastern Uganda.

A bicycle collection day is being held at the Merecroft Village Shopping Centre parking lot on Saturday, March 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon. Merecroft Village is located at the corner of South Dogwood Street and Merecroft Road in Campbell River. A second bicycle collection day is scheduled on Saturday, March 14 from 9:30 am to 12 noon at Comox Moving and Storage located at 1734 Ryan Road in Courtenay.

Bicycles for Humanity is a grassroots movement that was founded in 2005 by Pat and Brenda Montani of Whistler, British Columbia. Since its inception, B4H has grown to 50 chapters in 8 countries and has shipped over 100,000 bicycles to Africa. Laurel and Richard, both avid cyclists, want to help improve the quality of life of villagers in rural Uganda by providing them with a means of transportation.

Karamoja is located in north eastern Uganda that borders Kenya in the east and Sudan in the north. It is a rugged, largely savannah area that is covered by grasses and thorned plants and is characterised by a harsh climate and low annual rainfall. Since giving up their arms after nearly 20 years of war, the Karamajong, the people of the region, have returned to their traditional life of farming and herding cattle and goats. The Karamoja Bicycle

Intiative led by former professional cyclist, Paul Sherwen, is working with Bicycles for Humanity to improve the mobility of the Karamajong by delivering 25,000 bicycles to the region over five years.

Something as simple as a bicycle can empower change and economic improvement in these rural villages. Health care workers, who could perhaps see one patient while travelling on foot, can now see five or more patients.

Women walking for several hours to collect water for their family can now make the trip in a fraction of the time. This gift of mobility also empowers students and business people in their daily lives.

Concurrent with the bicycle collection effort, B4H Comox Valley is also raising $15,000 to $20,000 in order to purchase a shipping container and pay for shipping to landlocked Uganda.

Once the container arrives at the nearest African port, organizations on the ground take care of the logistics to move the container from the port to the Ugandan village.

One unique feature of the B4H program is that the shipping container is transformed into a Bicycle Empowerment Centre and becomes an integral part of the village.

Doors and windows are cut-out of the steel container, a heat-resistant roof is installed on top and the shipping container becomes a community-based bicycle repair shop.

Further information is available at www.b4h-comoxvalley.org or on Facebook (Bicycles for Humanity – Comox Valley).