George Louie and Rob Barron work on a bike that may be headed to Uganda at Re-Buy-Cycle Shop in Langford as part of an initiative to help children in the impoverished African nation. (Rick Stiebel/News staff)

Langford bike shop gathers wheels for Uganda

Return-It Recycling Centres in Victoria collecting bottles under The Uganda Project

Rick Stiebel

News staff

If a single bicycle can make a significant difference for an entire village, especially when the nearest school or water supply may be miles away, imagine the difference two shipping containers of bikes can make.

That’s what’s driving Rob Barron’s efforts to refurbish bicycles between now and July in preparation for a trip to Nansana in Kampala, Uganda.

Barron is trying to fill two-20 ft. shipping containers with as many as he can to help children in the impoverished African nation.

RELATED: Local woman sees impact of bicycles first hand in Malawi, Africa

His girlfriend, Jocelyn Samek, has already connected with some youth organizations working in refugee camps in Uganda, which has been ravaged by a deadly combination of AIDS, poverty and violence that Barron says has all but eliminated an entire generation of adults.

“We want to be able to do something that helps people there as soon as we arrive. Some of the stories we’ve seen and heard as we prepare for the trip have left both of us in tears. Our efforts are part of a movement in Uganda aimed at creating hope, peace, love and unity for children there. People we know who’ve been involved with these kinds of initiatives say you can’t really prepare because it’s impossible to comprehend until you get there.”

Barron, the owner of Re-Buy-Cycle Shop in Langford, has made a habit of giving back to the community since he first opened the business on Goldstream Avenue a little more than three years ago. In addition to refurbishing, selling and repairing bikes, the shop provides free bicycles for kids up to the size of 20 inch rims. Staff provide free lessons and free repairs for kids bikes as well.

“That’s a huge part of what we do, probably about 60 per cent of our time,” he explained. “A lot of our clients donate old bikes, which helps us with the cost of purchasing parts. What we make on regular repairs and sales is what allows us to stay in business. We started out donating bikes to the Cridge Centre, but they couldn’t keep up with the numbers we repaired, so we expanded that to help kids in our community with free bikes. I’ve had parents in tears when they get a free bike for their kids. The emotional response is pretty amazing.”

READ ALSO: Bicycles for Humanity ships 10th container to Africa

Barron is looking for bicycles, parts and cash donations to help with the staggering cost of getting the bicycles to Uganda. “We’re trying to raise about $25,000 because of the huge cost of shipping two containers that size and the taxes involved,” he noted. Return-It Recycling Centres in Victoria have jumped on board by collecting donations from bottles under The Uganda Project. Westmont Montessori School in Metchosin is assisting with the project as well through a number of initiatives still being determined.

“Students at the school are anxious to help out,” Barron said. “They’re pretty amazing kids, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they come up with.” U-Bikes are also donating bikes no longer in use toward the project.

Another interesting element of the project involves having local First nations paint traditional art on the containers, which will be converted to serve as classrooms in Uganda. “We want to forge a cultural connection as well,” Barron explained. “We’ve donated bikes to the Songhees Native Friendship and Wellness Centre in the past, and would welcome their involvement.”

READ ALSO: Spandads help give new life to used bikes

Considering he’s never had to deal with the bureaucracy involved in an initiative of this scope, Barron is well aware that it’s an ambitious project. “We have a lot to learn. I’ve never been out of Canada or attempted anything like this before. I know we have to raise a lot of money, but I believe the community will come through for a cause like this. I’d also appreciate appreciate any help we can get with information from people who’ve done similar initiatives regarding logistics and connections. We’ve also been in touch with the Uganda consulates in Vancouver and Ottawa to see if there’s any way we can get a break on the high cost of taxes.”

If you would like to donate bicycles, parts or cash or help out with useful information, contact Barron at rebuycycleshop@gmail.com.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

The strange case of Jesokah Adkens

All was not what it seemed in Sooke girl’s disappearance 18 years ago

BC Transit offers high school grads free bus rides

2019 grads can choose two days in June to ride for free

Thursday sees mix of sun and cloud, high of 22 C

Plus a look ahead at your weekend forecast

Village Block Party returns to Cook Street

Sunday’s event brings vendors, entertainment and coveted dog race to Victoria’s Cook Street

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Improve your life and theirs, adopt a cat from the BC SPCA

The BC SPCA holds an adult cat adoption promotion

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

UPDATED: B.C. man says he’ll take People’s Party lawsuit as far as he can

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Most Read