Young Oak Bay woman sees impact of bicycles first hand in Malawi, Africa

Daughter’s volunteer work inspires Oak Bay mom to get gathering for with Bikes4Humanity

Sabira Charlesworth didn’t anticipate a new African penpal when her daughter Hannah embarked on a ‘gap year’ adventure.

In January, Hannah, an Oak Bay High grad of 2017, headed for Malawi through Lattitude Global Volunteering Canada.

Now settled in a village called Mlowe, Hannah fundraised before she left and pays school fees, medical fees and like for some children in the village “without electricity and running water where people don’t have much of anything,” said mom Sabira Charlesworth.

“When she leaves, that goes,” said Sabira, at home in Oak Bay. Hannah sought a more sustainable option to leave a legacy behind, and Sabira renewed a search she’d started months earlier, reconnecting with the Victoria chapter of Bicycles For Humanity.

Led by Chris and Linda Wille and John Robertson, the volunteer organization sends unwanted bikes to developing countries, supporting grassroots projects that improve access to healthcare, education, water, food, and employment.

Sabira posted a call-out for bicycles on social media and the donations started pouring into their Oak Bay yard. She heard tales of bikes, and came across people with their kid’s first bike in storage. The emotional attachment melted away by the opportunity to provide critical transportation for someone else.

“You hear stories about the bikes, and you hear about other resources in the community. It was a way to connect with your community,” Sabira said.

The 10th B4H Victoria shipping container landed earlier this month and six of those bikes, through Africycle run by Canadian Ben Voss, made the ferry ride to Mlowe where they arrived on Sunday, June 3. There Mlowe Community Day Secondary School of about 150 students lends them out to those students travelling furthest to school.

“Now there are 12 kids making their way to school,” Sabira said.

Weeks earlier, while Chris and Linda Wille loaded up a couple truckloads of bikes, a couple of youngsters up the street came by and the organizers recognized them. Their mother, Jan Achtem, is a teacher at École Willows elementary who led her class to collect 50 bikes for the same organization last year. The adopted boys also happen to hail from Ethiopia.

Achtem also dropped by a book published in 2015 by a then Oak Bay neighbour. The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle (2015) by Jude Isabella with illustrations by Simone Shun outlines the tale of one such bike. The nonfiction picture book’s the main character is a bicycle that starts its life owned and ridden by a young boy. Leo, treasures his bicycle and calls it Big Red. When he outgrows Big Red, Leo decides to donate it to an organization that ships bicycles to Africa. Big Red has quite the adventure on the African continent.

Sabira now corresponds via Messenger with a teen from the day school. “Even though he’s not a recipient of a bike, he’s so grateful,” Sabira said.

Visit facebook.com/b4hvictoria/ to learn more about the local chapter of Bicycles For Humanity. Visit africycle.org/canada/ to learn more about that organization. To drop off bikes in Oak Bay, find Sabira Charlesworth on Facebook or email bikes@bellacoola.com.

 

Just Posted

Sooke council renews animal control contract with CRD

If your dog vanishes into thin air on a stormy night in… Continue reading

Saanich wants bunkers to be off limits for cannabis growing

Saanich looks to block cement bunkers on ALR farmland

Heat and smoke raises health risks

Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror Health risks arising from heat and… Continue reading

Victoria police seize over one kilo of fentanyl, guns and cars

Andrew Ritch is facing charges of drug trafficking and firearm offences

UPDATE: Missing Langford teen found safe

The 13-year-old Langford boy reported missing Wednesday has been found

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

UPDATED: Vancouver Island community under evacuation alert due to wildfire

BC Wildfire Service says steep terrain near Zeballos poses challenge as “out of control” wildfire approaches homes

Most Read