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

Hundreds rally in support of horse carriages outside Victoria City Hall

Crowd angry with Coun. Ben Isitt’s motion to ban local horse carriage industry

Rifflandia Festival cancelled for 2019

Early Bird tickets can be refunded at point of purchase, or held and redeemed for 2020

Five-month bridge closure poses early impacts on drivers during rush hour

Construction began Tuesday on the crossing commonly known as the Bay Street bridge

Several hundred SD 62 students team up to clean the shoreline

Effort aimed at keeping Esquimalt and Albert Head Lagoon trash-free

New virgin queen headlines ‘Bee Day’ at Saanich sanctuary

Taste bee spit and check out the hive at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary this Sunday

VIDEO: Canadian, U.S. Coast guards run oil spill response drills

20 vessels were on the water to practice international response methods

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Young Victoria distillery earns prestigious Scotch awards

Scottish influences range from techniques to ‘kilted tours’ at award-winning business

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Brewpub offers ‘boat valet’ for paddlers during Surfrider celebration tonight

Free ‘Surf Formal’ evening features a local art auction, door prizes, live music

Most Read