I can hardly believe another year has gone by. We hope that you had a wonderful 2017. We were able to deliver a total of 10 bicycles this year and have 10 more scheduled for the first of the year. They are scheduled to be delivered after the Holiday break. These bicycles will be going to the two schools we have been working with in Sierra Leone, Sussex Secondary School and York Wam Secondary School. Many of the students from these schools come from small communities in the outlining areas and they have benefited greatly from the use of a bicycle, as they travel very long distances to get to school. The schools have reported that the bikes have had a very powerful impact. These bicycles have greatly lessened the burden and amount of time it takes the student to get to school. Before they received a bike, the student had to either walk or try and find costly transportation that wasn’t always safe. For example, some students would ride two or more on a motorcycle or in the back of a pickup truck loaded down with goods. The parents are also very happy that their child received a bicycle for several reasons. They no longer have to pay for transportation, which was putting a huge financial strain on the family. Additionally, the parents say they no longer have to encourage their child to study because they have become very serious about school since receiving a bicycle. The parents are also committed to making sure their child takes great care with his/her bike. The schools also says that since receiving the bikes enrollment is up and overall grades have improved. This is great news for us because this is exactly what we are trying to achieve with these bikes. We are looking forward to continuing our projects with these two schools for the coming year. After our January delivery we will have provided 35 bicycles to these two schools!
We are very proud of the students that have received these bikes. It means that they have overcome great challenges and have remained dedicated to their education and they are encouraging others to do the same. The people of Sierra Leone want the same things we want in life: safety; financial security; and happiness. We believe that education is a big component to helping them achieve this. Thank you for your donations and support in the fight for a better life for Sierra Leone!!
I also want to take this moment to thank all the people that volunteer. Thank you to the board members for your dedication and insight. Thank you to Marilyn who organizes the clothe chalk board projects and Sam who believes in hope through soccer for youths. Thank you to the in-country volunteers that stay committed to our vision for a life without poverty through education. Thank you to Richard who finds us quality bikes and volunteers his time delivering these bikes and teaching the students riding and mechanical skills. Thank you to the schools, communities and parents of students. Thank you to our friends and supporters who help financially make this all possible. And most of all, thank you to the students who are doing the hard work and who are the hope for a better tomorrow!
Please think about making a donation to Pedals for Africa! We are a nonprofit organization made up of volunteers only.
Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter we wish you all happy holidays and a joyful New Year with lots of good fortune and good health!!
Founder and President
So, the idea is to leave it to the market to decide whether a particular category of the population is to survive or not?
Who, exactly is the market?
Dear Friends & Supporters,
We hope that your Holidays were relaxing and full of joy! We are happy to report that we visited Sierra Leone in February. Apart from delivering bicycles we also had soccer gear and 50 clothe chalk boards to deliver. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sam Sudderth and Marilyn Moreno for their long-time dedication to helping youths in Sierra Leone. They devote their time and talent freely and we appreciate them so much!
Sam has been raising money for a local boy’s soccer team in Sierra Leone for many years now and has even set up a Facebook page for the team: https://www.facebook.com/SeasideStrikersFC/ Thanks to Sam we delivered shoes, balls and some training equipment during this trip to the Seaside Strikers football team. There are few opportunities for young men in Sierra Leone and Sam’s efforts really help give hope and focus to young men and boys, which is an essential element in keeping them on the right track. The dedication Sam has shown for these boys is an inspiration!!
Additionally, Marilyn makes clothe chalk boards that are easy to carry and wash and are just so handy for young students that don’t have easy access to paper. She has donated over 100 clothe chalk boards through the years! We mainly give them to preschools to promote early education, to create a love for learning early-on, and to build a strong foundation for success. She even makes big clothe chalk boards for the teachers!! She’s amazing!! I can’t state enough how important these clothe chalk boards are in our efforts to promote education.
It was wonderful to be back in Sierra Leone and to see that the schools were open again. It was a very busy trip visiting schools, making bicycle delivery arrangements and distributing the soccer gear and the clothe chalk boards. We delivered 15 bicycles to two different secondary schools, and we are happy to report that the majority of the bikes did go to girl students!! Additionally, our in-country coordinator Musa Koroma reports that the projects are doing well and the schools have put in a request for more bicycles. We hope to purchase more when school starts up again after the Holiday break in January.
As I said it gave me great joy to return to Sierra Leone and to see the students return to school, however Ebola left a gaping hole in the economy. There is still a lot of suffering. I saw many young pregnancies; due I believe to the long school shut downs. Many of these young mothers want to return to school, but are finding it difficult. Let’s be part of the solutions!! Please think about making a donation to Pedals for Africa! We are a nonprofit organization made up of volunteers only.
Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter we wish you all a joyful New Year with lots of good fortune and good health!!
April Boles Founder and President
If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together. - African Proverb
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Thank you for taking the time during this busy season to read our newsletter. We hope that you have had a happy, healthy and prosperous year. The end of this year will mark eight years since Pedals for Africa was founded. With your help and generosity we have been able to take bicycles to many countries in Africa. We appreciate all your support throughout these eight years and hope that you will continue to support us in our efforts in the future.
We are now primarily working in Sierra Leone. Tragically, we have been unable to deliver bicycles this past year. As most of you know, this country, so full of beauty and warm hearted people who have been fighting to rebuild after a 10 year war is now battling a devastating virus called Ebola. Not only is Ebola responsible for countless deaths it is also killing the country economically and culturally. Everything that the amazing people of Sierra Leone have been working so hard to rebuild is crumbling down everyday. Many Sierra Leoneans say the conditions in the country are worse than during the war. They have had mandatory lock downs, where they had to spend days without leaving their homes, food prices have soared and are rising daily, and many job sources such as tourism and farming have completely stopped. Closer to Pedals for Africa’s heart is that the schools had shut down and children were no longer going to school for over a year. However, schools are open now and the country was declared Ebola free November 7th. However this country is still in a major crisis and Ebola still remains a threat. We ask that you please keep the people of Sierra Leone in your hearts and minds this season and hope for an end to this deadly virus that has already caused unimaginable hardships and loss.
Now that schools have reopened we hope to return to Sierra Leone in the coming months. We hope that it will be as soon as March 2016. It will be more important than ever to continue our work there. During the war schools were also shut down and when they started to reopen many students did not return unfortunately, we fear that this will happen again. However, the schools that we have worked with in the past have seen enrollment go up because of a chance at a bicycle and we are hopeful that our programs will be an incentive for students to go back to school.
We are a volunteer only organization, no one gets paid for the work they do for Pedals for Africa. Therefore, I want to say a special thank you to all of the people in the US and Africa that give of their time and talent.
Lastly, we want to take this time to thank all of you for being a part of Pedals for Africa. We are so thankful for your past support and we hope that you will continue joining us in our efforts in Sierra Leone. We believe in what we are doing and we hope you do too. Additionally, please view our events page for an upcoming fundraiser event Sunday December 6th!!!
Everyone at Pedals for Africa wishes you a very Happy Holiday and a New Year full of joy and love.
April Boles Founder and President
On this side and that I hear “Africa is poor,” “Africa is an enigma,” “Africa is millstone around humanity’s neck.” To these voices deciding whether we belong in the world, I reply, “Africa is generous,” “Africa is a martyr,” and nonetheless, “Africa is the solution.” -Aminata Traore
Pedals for Africa had a busy year in 2011. We had fun and creative fundraisers and we also sadly said goodbye to one board member and warmly welcomed another. However, the most exciting news we have to share is that we were able to deliver a total of 68 bikes in four different countries! The delivery of these bikes will make a real difference in the lives of many students, the communities they live in, and hopefully a whole generation.
In March, kids in our community devoted several weekends to working on clay masks. They created fantastic masterpieces that helped raise money to purchase bicycles for schools in Mali and Sierra Leone. The students that received these bicycles were so grateful that they wrote letter of thanks. All of us at Pedals for Africa are also thankful to the wonderful young artist and can’t wait to do it again.
We also want to give a BIG BIG “Thank you” to the owners of Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge for hosting three art shows this year at their stores. Not just that, but there staff also put on an art show to raise money. WOW! We really appreciate all that you do to help us raise the funds we need.http://www.moderndwellers.com/
We want to give a special “thank you” to the Anchorage Hillside Rotary Club for your donation to PFA. We know you work hard to raise money for organizations like ours. We very much appreciate all our donors and especially those who donate year after year and so generously like Brad and Kay Mckim and Tony Sleva.
We would like to say goodbye to Hemali Mehta, our interim Secretary to the Board. We really enjoyed your smiling face and enthusiasm for Pedals for Africa. Good luck in your future endeavors and we truly appreciated your service.
We would like to welcome Christine Sam as our new Board Secretary. Chris is no stranger to Pedals for Africa. She has done personal fundraising as well volunteered time with PFA. She will be serving as Board Secretary as well as our Ethiopian Coordinator. We are thrilled that she is joining our team.
John Coulibaly, our local coordinator in Mali, has been checking on how our bicycle projects are doing. He indicated that the projects are all running smoothly and student test results are improving so he delivered another 5 bikes to MarakoPrimary School and 5 to KeleyeSecondary School. I will be back in Mali next year to check on the projects, take photos/videos, and identify other potential schools.
In June we delivered 20 bicycles to EnkhabaHigh School in Swaziland. We have not been back to check on the project, but we hope to visit the school in the future. We are hoping that by making education more accessible to young people it will help fight the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic in Swaziland.
We were able to deliver 30 bicycles in Sierra Leone this year. Schools that received bicycles are reporting that their students are doing better on national exams, enrollment is up, and students that were in danger of dropping out are able to remain in school.
We are also proud to announce that we teamed-up with a wonderful organization called Bank-On-Rain at the BarinaSecondary School in Makali, Sierra Leone. They outfitted the school with a rain-catchment system and we supplied them with bicycles. We at Pedals for Africa strongly believe in working cooperatively with other organizations to maximize the overall benefits to a community.
To read more about Bank-On-Rain please click here:
We feel like we have had a very productive year and we couldn’t have done it without all of you. You have truly made a difference in the lives of many children. Students that were thinking of dropping out of school are now staying and working even harder for their future and the future of their country. You are helping these students obtain an education, which is actually a basic human right. On behalf of the children we serve “thank you!”
Happy Holidays everyone and a joyful and prosperous New Year!!!
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
-Martin Luther King Jr.
PFA hands off bikes to Sussex Secondary School!!!
I returned last month from a successful trip to Mali and Sierra Leone with renewed energy for our bike projects. I heard testimonies from the students in Mali who received bikes. I also spent time in Sierra Leone getting to know the people in rural communities and the needs of the students from these communities.
I am happy to report that our bike projects in Mali are running smoothly and are positively impacting the lives of the students who ride them. Our Mali project is a very special one because it is our first project that is mainly being run by a local person. Our local coordinator, John Coulibaly, did a beautiful job purchasing, coordinating, and distributing the bikes to the designated schools in Mali.
While I was in Mali, John and I visited the schools to check on our projects. We heard from the students and faculty first hand. The principal of MarakoSecondary School, Mr. Guinolo talked about how the students who received bikes are less tired and are doing much better with their school work. He praised the bike project and said it is really making a big difference.
One young girl told us how she was finding it harder and harder to find the energy to get to school and back because of the distance she had to travel. She told us that on one particular day she was so exhausted that she decided that this would be her last day of school. She said she prayed all the way to school for help because she didn’t want to quit school. With tears in her eyes, she told us that when she arrived at school that morning there was a bike waiting for her. This student travels 7 kilometers each way to and from school. I’m happy to say that she is still attending school and feels proud of the fact that she was chosen as a recipient of a bike.
There are so many unbelievable stories from these students, this is just one. Your donations really do make a difference in the lives of young people just trying to get a basic education. On behalf of the students you help “Thank you!”
I also visited Sierra Leone. Some of the reasons I really enjoy visiting Sierra Leone is the warmth of the people and the natural beauty. I am so thrilled to be starting projects in Sierra Leone to support the rebuilding of the country after years of war. Many of the rural areas don’t have schools in their community so the students must travel to other communities or larger cities like Freetown to attend school. These students have to stay with relatives or family friends. Often times these students are not well cared for by these distant relatives and end up on the streets or in trouble.
One of the rural schools I visited was SussexSecondary School. It has 50 students who travel up to 4 miles to get to school. This school has been around for 20 years or more, but was just reopened 3 years ago by teachers and community members who were concerned for the young people having to move to Freetown to attend school. The teachers are volunteers and have not been collecting paychecks. They are working on acquiring funds from the government and collecting fees from parents, but at this point they are operating on a volunteer basis only.
We were able to donate 5 bikes to SussexSecondary School. I know 5 bikes doesn’t sound like much, but these 5 bikes will really help. Also, I can only purchase used bikes in Sierra Leone and it took 7 long hours to find these 5 bikes and 4 hours of rough dirty driving to get them to the school. Thanks again for your generous donations that made this all possible. It’s a great feeling to be part of a school that is so dedicated to changing the lives of the students.
As you know we are a volunteer only organization. I am proud to announce that some young people in our community have volunteered their time and talent. These youngsters participated in a “Mask Project” to raise funds for more bikes. These amazingly creative masks will be on display the month of March at the Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge midtown store. The masks are part of the March First Friday event, so please come to Modern Dwellers on the evening of March 4th and support the young artists and Pedals for Africa.
As always we truly appreciate you and thank you for your time and donations!!!!
May your action have an effect like that of the seed of the baobab.
-Peul oral tradition
A lot has happened since my last newsletter: This July we had a successful ‘Valdez Ride’; I was able to travel to Swaziland and Sierra Leone to asses the need for bikes in those countries and we delivered bikes to two schools in Mali. Also, I hope you all participated in our ‘keep your change for change’ program and have donations to make at the end of this year.
We only had three riders participate in the ‘Valdez Ride 2010’ and although we were hoping for more riders, they still managed to raise $6268.00. We kept expenses to a bare minimum and thankfully 60 percent of the money raised will go to purchasing bikes for schools in Mali, Swaziland, and Sierra Leone. It was a really fun ride and a great group of people. Thank you so much to the riders and their donors.
I was honored to be invited to visit Swaziland in August where I was warmly greeted by the kind people and had the good fortune of visiting during their traditional Reed Dance Ceremony. This is when all the maidens of Swaziland come to dance for their King, country, and to keep their traditions alive. It was something indescribable; a must see event. I also was able to visit with some school officials and we agreed that our bike program would work very well in the rural areas of Swaziland. So, EnkhabaHigh School will get 20 bikes for their students. We plan to continue our work in Swaziland by working with schools as well as health clinics because Swaziland has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
One of our project goals in Africa is to work closely with the local people. In each country we work hard to cultivate friendships that are established on trust and respect. We rely heavily on the support and advice of our in-county contacts; people who know the culture and the ins-and-outs of doing business in their communities. Our in-country contact in Mali is John Coulibaly. He helps with everything from interpreting to finding the best bike dealers. We are very proud to announce that in November John purchased, arranged transportation, and delivered 10 bikes to MarakoSecondary School and KeleyeSecondary School in Mali. I will be traveling to Mali in January 2011 to check on the project and hopefully get some video footage of the students that are benefiting from the bikes. If the project is running according to plans, we will be buying 10 more bikes for these schools.
I recently returned from a two week trip in Sierra Leone, where I traversed the country by bike and vehicle. I didn’t know what to expect from Sierra Leone because they were at war just 10 years ago. Most of the roads were in very bad shape, most towns were without electricity, and many of the schools were destroyed or just not operating. What did stand out in every corner of this country was the kindness of the people. Sierra Leone is by far the poorest country in Africa that I have visited but the people were hospitable and giving with whatever they had. They hope for a better future and they believe, as we do at PFA, that this future is attainable with education. On average, students walk 5 miles each way to get to school. Often times, school is so far away from their home that they must live with relatives or family friends to stay in school. I am proud to announce I will be returning to Sierra Leone in January 2011 to visit schools in need of bikes for their students and hopefully make a delivery as well.
In Anchorage, we participated in the Mitzvah Mall this year. This was a ‘mall’ where people made donations in the names of their loved ones as holiday gifts. We raised $575 and we plan for this money to go toward buying bikes in Sierra Leone. Here is a link to a newspaper article about the event where PFA was mentioned:
Earlier this year we challenge you to “keep your change for change.” I hope all of you participated in that challenge and have a donation to make. My family and I did just that and we were able to save $96.13. This will enable at least one child access to his or her education. Small things can make a big difference.
Louise Colbert a valued Board Member resigned from her position as Vise President. She was a great asset to PFA and will be missed. We are thankful to have had her on the board for so long.
We have two new Board Members we would like to introduce. Welcome Hemali Mehta our new interim Secretary and our new Fundraiser Coordinator Becky Goulette-Tosa.
We are a volunteer only organization, no one gets paid for the work they do at Pedals for Africa. Therefore, I want to say a special thank you to all of the people in the US, Canada, and Africa that give of their time and talent.
Lastly, we want to take this time to thank all of you for being a part of Pedals for Africa. We wish you all a Happy Holiday and a fantastic New Year!!!!
April Boles President
Happiness is not acquired; it does not consist in appearances.
We each have to build it during every moment of our lives, through our hearts. –Female elder in a Dogon village
My May trip to Mali and Ethiopia was both productive and amazing, as always. The genuine and friendly hospitality of the people and abundant natural beauty of these countries is refreshing and unforgettable, but what never ceases to amaze me most is the dedication the people have for education. The schools Pedals For Africa work with are not freshly painted and don’t have nice big gyms and music rooms to explore the arts and extra curricular activities. Often times these schools have dirt floors and desks, paper, and pencils are luxuries. Electricity is not even considered a possibility. Yet parents send their children to school even though their labor is much needed at home and they even pay school fees they cannot afford. They do this because they know that education is essential to ending poverty. They send their children to school because it means a better life and because despite the lack of desks, books, and electricity, they still learn. Education is taken very seriously by the students in these schools. Every bicycle we give represents a better future to these children, especially for young girls.
Chris Sam accompanied me to both Mali and Ethiopia. She was able to help facilitate great contacts in Mali for future bike deliveries, was designated photographer, and translator. She also raised nearly $1000 for PFA. Jill Dean owner of Grass Roots fair-trade store traveled with us in Ethiopia. Both women are a great asset to our team and all of us at Pedals For Africa are thankful for their contribution to the organization.
During our time in Mali we established solid in-county contacts and visited several schools. Good in-country contacts are fundamental to a successful project. The schools we visited were similar to schools in Ethiopia and Malawi and the children faced the same issues. We feel that Mali is a good candidate for our bike programs and will begin projects there this year.
We had a successful bike delivery in Ethiopia during this trip. We were originally scheduled to deliver bikes to the International Community School of Addis Ababa in Bahar Dar, however once we got to Ethiopia the organization we work with, ORDA, had identified a school in more dire need and we agreed to switch schools. We were able to purchase 15 bikes and they were delivered to ShimbetPrimary School located in Bahar Dar. Everyone involved was very pleased with the delivery. We will return to Bahar Dar to complete our bike commitments and then move to more remote schools in the Gondar region of Ethiopia.
Katie Fallen, a much valued Board member resigned. We will miss her dearly and thank her for her dedicated service to Pedals For Africa. Volunteers like Katie make us who we are.
Ethiopia, Malawi, and Mali are among the poorest countries in the world. They have established educations systems, have stable governments, and the schools we visit have dedicated students, teachers, and staff. We hope to continue to work in these three countries and help break the cycle of poverty. Please join us by volunteering, donating, or just telling others about us.
Thank you to all the donors, your generous donations made this delivery possible. Also, a huge thank you to the many people in Africa that do so much. Without the wonderful volunteers here in Alaska and Africa none of this would be achievable. Finally, all flights and travel expenses were paid for by volunteers themselves. We have an average budget of around $300 meaning most of your donations go to purchasing bikes.
When you eat the fruit of a large tree, do not forget to thank the wind. -Bariba oral tradition
It is that time of year again, time for me to travel to Africa. I will be traveling to Mali and Ethiopia on May 1st. On my previous trip to Mali, back in November, I saw a lot of need and felt that it would be a great place to start a program. During this visit I will be meeting with various organizations and people to see if we might be able to work together. I will give you a full report on my return in June.
I am excited to be returning to Ethiopia and this time we will be delivering 20 bikes to The International Community School of Addis Ababa located in Bahr Dar. I will be sure to take lots of pictures to share when I return.
I am happy to announce that I will have two traveling companions on this trip, Chris Sam and Jill Dean. Jill is the owner of the Grass Roots Fair Trade Store in Anchorage. Chris Sam has raised $970 toward purchasing bikes for The International Community School of Addis Ababa. We are very thankful to Chris and to all of you who have donated on her behalf. She is a great asset to our team! Chris has also been instrumental in connecting Pedals For Africa with organizations in Mali and Ethiopia that might benefit from our projects.
Jill and I will be working together on this trip to start relationships with people and organizations that we hope to work with on future projects. We at Pedals For Africa feel that first you must establish a friendship built on trust and respect to have a successful project. This takes a lot of time and will be the focus of this trip. Jill shares this perspective and will be joining me on this trip to begin many friendships that will hopefully result in helpful and productive projects in the future.
Also, if you haven’t taken a look at the 7 day bike ride organized for July, I encourage you to do so. It is going to be an amazing journey and a great way to raise funds for people that desperately need our help. Please visit:
We will not be delivering bikes to Malawi during this trip. We hope to return to Malawi in August and deliver 30 bikes or more at that time.
We are a volunteer only organization and all volunteers pay their own travel expenses. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful people like Chris and Jill and many others who have given their time and talent to helping us achieve our goals. I look forward to telling you all about our projects, new and old friendships, and adventures in Africa when I return. Thank you for supporting us, we are grateful and humbled by your generosity!!!!
The stranger! The one who is served plenteously with food.
It is for the stranger that the fat calf is killed.
If you see a stranger, regard him as a king.
-African oral tradition
We hope your New Year is going well. We all, well most of us, make New Year resolutions, we want to do this or do that, change this or change that, right? Often times we make our New Year Resolution too lofty and too hard to keep and it ends up in some New Year Resolution dump. We at Pedals For Africa would like to propose a challenge to you for 2010. A New Year Resolution that will be easy to keep and will leave you feeling great!
We challenge you to keep all your change and at the end of the year cash it in and make a donation to Pedals For Africa. You probably won’t miss your change on a daily basis and you can feel really good about helping others when it comes time to cash it in. Take this change challenge and change the lives of school children in Africa. You can make a big difference with just your change.
At the end of every day drop your change in a jar marked “Change for Change.” You can also have a jar at your work and get your coworkers to take the “Change Challenge” as well.
We hope you will take the “Change Challenge”-better yet make it a tradition and make change with your change year after year. Have a great day!
Be the change that you want to see in the world. -Gandhi
My trip to Mali in November was an amazing experience. Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa and is among the top five poorest countries in the world. I traveled to Mali to participate in a self-supported bike ride with a group of cyclists. I arrived ahead of the group and spent five days in Bamako, Mali’s bustling capital city. I was able to experience the wonderful music of West Africa, traditional dancing shows, busy chaotic markets, I visited a museum, ate in fun little restaurants hidden away down side alleys, and met kind and friendly people.
After five fun filled days in Bamako I met up with my biking companions, David, Dan, Ralph, Laura, and Megan. The trip leader was David Mozer of Bicycle Africa who has been biking in Africa for over twenty five years. We spent a day biking around busy Bamako. If you have ever been in a busy African city your mouth has probably dropped and you’re saying “she did what?” Chaos would be an understatement…cars are bumper to bumper, honking every two seconds, and driving in some mad crazy speeding frenzy. Oh, and don’t forget the buses, motor bikes, bicycles, pedestrians, vendors, and donkeys. Surprisingly, once you get in the middle of all this you realize there is some rhyme to their reason. I absolutely loved biking in Bamako.
Biking in the city was a fun and exciting experience, but hitting the open road knowing that there was so much more of Mali to discover was the best feeling. With my heart open and my bike loaded, I left Bamako ready for an adventure. We biked on nice paved roads with buses and overloaded trucks spraying rocks, fumes, and dust in our faces. We biked over dried-up riverbeds, packed dirt roads strewn with rocks, deep sandy roads, and barren wilderness. We traveled by ferry carrying people, goods, and livestock down the Niger River and on several occasions crossed the river in small boats called Pinasses. We visited small towns with hotels, internet, restaurants, and lively markets. We visited remote villages with no electricity, where our meals were prepared by open fire outdoors and we slept under the stars. We saw the many joys and hardships of life in Mali. We passed women pounding millet under trees, men farming, children laughing while walking to school, sleepy old men relaxing in the shade, and people on older slower bikes than ours. We would pass the time exploring markets, laughing with and learning from our new Malian friends, and drinking tea. We met happy and kind people. We experienced traditional ways of life for people in Mali and explored amazing historical sites and so much more.
I would have to say the best part of this trip was the friendships I cultivated, the Dogon villages we visited, finishing three cups of tea and the love, kindness and great hospitality of the Malian people. What I discovered in Mali humbled me, amazed me, and left me more in love with Africa. I would recommend this mode of travel to anyone looking for a way to truly know what Africa is all about.
The Malian tea ceremony, as I remember it, takes well over an hour and consists of three cups of tea. The first is bitter like death, the second is smooth like life, and the third is sweet like love.
If you are interested in finding out more about Bicycle Africa tours go to:
In October I worked with the students at Children’s Garden Montessori on a clay mask making project to raise money and awareness. The masks they created were fantastic and we were able to get them into a First Friday art show at Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge for the month of November. The show was a great success with a record turnout and we raised enough money to purchase 14 bikes. I was very proud of the children and we plan on making it a yearly event.
We have some exciting events planned for the coming year. In May I will be traveling to Malawi and Ethiopia to deliver bikes. July will be a busy month for us as we are going to create a Pedals For Africa relay team to bike the Fireweed 200 this coming year. Also, I will be organizing a 7 day biking adventure from Anchorage to Valdez. We hope to have all the details on the trip available soon. We are trying to come up with a good title for the 7 day ride so if you have any ideas please let me know.
We are happy to report that we were able to deliver 30 bikes this year to Malawi and will make more deliveries in the coming year. All of us at Pedals For Africa wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season and peace, love, and joy. Thank you to all our supporters. HAPPY NEWYEAR!!!!!!!
None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody bent down and helped us. -Thurgood Marshall
I will be heading off to Africa in November. This time I will be traveling to Mali for a two week bike trip. I will be representing Pedals For Africa and keeping on eye-out for potential future projects. Mali is in the top 5 poorest countries in the world and has an extremely low rate of girls attending school. However, we only maintain projects in countries where we have a good in-country contact and connection and this would have to be established before we can start a project in Mali.
We had a fundraiser October 10th. We raised enough money to purchase 20 more bikes. Thank you to all who attended and to those who could not make it, but choose to show their support by making a donation. Also, thank you to Zoe and Martha, owners of the Chocolate Lounge for donating the yummy truffles. Thank you to Meseret for the fabulous and fun Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. It was a lot of fun and now 20 more bikes will be donated. One hundred percent of the money raised will go to purchasing these much needed bikes.
While traveling in Africa, I often notice taxis and businesses with messages displayed on them. So, if you have a message for the people of Mali that you would like me to print on my biking jersey, just make a $25 donation (or more!) before November 3rd and send me an email with your message.
The Students of Children’s Garden Montessori have created clay masks (36 of them!) which will be on display at the Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge First Friday Event on November 6th from 5 to 8 PM. The artists are expected to be available from 6 to 7:30 PM. They volunteered their time and talent to raise money and awareness for Pedals For Africa. It would be great if you could attend this event. If you can’t make it that night, stop by anytime during November to see this unique show.
Have a great weekend!!!
I pay homage to the point of the sun's rise, its zenith, and its setting!
To the spirits of Africa and the world! May our hands and our hearts come closer. So that, joined to the past, we may continue into the future. -Ritual prayer of West Africa
The Fireweed Ride Across Alaska was incredible. Over 800 people participated overall and 57 people finished the 200 mile portion of the race. It took me just over 14 hours to complete the Fireweed 200. It was a warm sunny day with only light showers in one small portion of the route. I was averaging 16.5 miles per hour for the first 160 miles and then I hit a nasty head wind going up Thompson Pass which slowed me down to a crawl. I lost a lot of time and in the end, my average speed was somewhere around 14 miles per hour. I felt great throughout the entire ride and enjoyed every minute of it. I finished the race on the KonaAfrica bike. The bike we are hoping to purchase for our next Malawi bike delivery in May 2010.
I personally would like to take this opportunity to thank my family for their patience and support throughout my training, all the sponsors who gave financially, Becky, my spinning instructor who motivated me to push harder, and all of you who supported me with kind and encouraging words. I believe I owe a very special thanks to my husband Stephen who did a great job as my support crew throughout the training and on the big day.
The jersey looked great. I felt so proud to be biking for such an important cause. Everyone at Pedals For Africa is so thankful for the generous support of our Sponsors. We didn’t reach our goal amount, however we did raise enough for 11 bikes. These 11 bikes will make such a huge difference in so many lives. They are going to give so many children a chance at an education that seemed impossible to obtain. Please believe me when I say every little bit helps when you have so little to start out with, when everything is such a struggle. I was very proud to be biking for a chance for change, for a chance at hope, for a chance at a happier and healthier life. Once again Pedals For Africa thanks all of you for your support!!!!!
I hope you enjoy the slide show. As you can see it was a picturesque and hilly ride.
These are the kinds of smart things we can do, nurturing many small relationships so that one day community can happen. -Sobonfu Some
Training for the Fireweed Race Across Alaska is going well. I will be biking the 200 mile/322 kilometers solo portion of the race for team ‘Pedals for Africa.’
On June 13th, I biked 120 miles/193 kilometers to Seward in 8 hours and it felt great. It was a nice cool day with light wind and some rain. On June 20th I attempted to bike the last 150 miles/241 kilometers of the race route. Unfortunately, I only made it to mile 110/177 kilometers before my support crew mutinied at 7 PM. My support crew consists of my husband Stephen, my 7 year-old daughter Isabelle, and my 4 year-old son Julian.
On June 20th we left Anchorage at 6 AM for the Sheep Mountain Lodge, which is the starting point for the race. We drove 50 miles/80 kilometers past the Lodge by 10AM—this is where I started my 110 mile/177 kilometers day. The first 15 miles/24 kilometers of my ride were peaceful and beautiful. There was no wind, no rain, and a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The views were incredible. I was riding into the Wrangle Mountains passing lakes, fast flowing rivers, wild flowers, and greenness all around me. Once I hit mile 15/24 kilometers, it all changed. The wind picked-up and I went from speeding along in bliss to a slow crawl. For the next 95 miles/152 kilometers I just kept on pushing into the wind and spinning along as best I could. You can’t fight wind; you just have to accept it. I was chased by a hungry dog, rained on, faced with the toughest head wind I have ever experienced, but it was a great challenge.
On June 26th I took off from Anchorage for a 150 mile/241 kilometers ride, it took 12 hours. I had a head wind for most of the trip. I just kept spinning along as fast as I could and enjoying the amazing Alaska scenery. I saw sheep, eagles, a moose, and lots of campers. It was a great day and I was rewarded with a tail wind the last 40 miles/64 kilometers.
I feel that training is going well and I am up to the challenge of 200 miles/322 kilometers. I know it will not be easy, but when I think of the daily struggles that the children in Africa face everyday, it makes it seem small in comparison.
Please remember to sponsor team ‘Pedals for Africa.’ I do this because I love it and I can—others struggle because they have no other choice. Help us give them a chance at education and a chance at change.
Happiness is not acquired; it does not consist in appearances. We each have to build it during every moment of our lives, working through our hearts.
-Female elder in a Dogon village
I have once again returned from an amazing and humbling African adventure. We were able to deliver 30 bikes to seven schools in Malawi and visit one high school in Northern Ethiopia that is also in dire need of bicycles. This was Pedals for Africa’s first bike delivery and it felt incredible to be able to help make such a huge difference in so many lives. This was all possible because of your generous support. I was also lucky enough to have a volunteer and wonderful travel companion, Gail Williamson. Below is a summary of our trip.
We were hoping to purchase at least 40 bikes in Malawi, but unfortunately, there were only 30 good bikes available. Once the bike purchasing was finalized, we waited for the bikes to be assembled. After we passed that hurdle it was time to work-out how best to deliver the bikes to the remote villages. After the delivery details were worked-out and the truck was loaded, it refused to start. A mechanic was called in and once again we were good to go. After two long days of tough driving, the truck made it to the village of Lumbwezi in the Rumphi district of Malawi. We were tired, dirty, and hungry from the long drive, and without electricity to properly prepare ourselves for the next couple days ahead, but the excitement of delivering the bikes was all we needed to get us through. We had seven schools, one preschool, and one clinic to visit and distribute bikes and other supplies. It took us two long days to complete this task. Each of the seven schools had school officials, chiefs, community members, and students present to receive the bikes. There were wise and thankful words said, dancing and singing to show there joy and thanks, and children’s lives were changed.
I was so proud of the children who received the bikes. The children who were chosen were staying in school against all odds. Without the support of these bikes, they would eventually have to drop-out. These particular students walk long distances starting-out hours before school starts, and they study hard and are at the top of their classes. And on top of all that, they have to complete many chores, before and after school. It may appear that a bike is not that significant or important, but to these children, these bikes will make a huge impact in their lives. Through your generous support, you have given the gifts of education and hope and with these gifts you have opened a door to unlimited possibilities for these children.
While we at Pedals for Africa are working at promoting education, we also feel that access to healthcare is important. Consequently, we were able to provide the clinic in the Lumbwezi village with a bike for the community health care worker and medical supplies donated by the Alaska Medical Mission.
We only had two days in Tanzania because it took longer in Malawi than we had anticipated so no real work was accomplished while we were there.
Ethiopia was a whirlwind affair. We landed in the EthiopianCity of Addis Ababa late in the evening and we were able to get a few hours of sleep before we were off at 5AM on a ten hour drive to the city of Bahr Dar. This is a northern Ethiopian city. We went there to visit schools that may benefit from our program. The trip was amazing; the driver got us there and back safely, but let’s just say that there were some thrilling moments. We arrived early in the evening and got settled into our luxuries accommodations provided by our host Tilahun. He put us up in his newly built resort, Kuriftu Resort and Spa, situated right on the banks of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile.
During our stay he treated us to a boat ride across the lake to the headwaters of the Blue Nile and the most amazing traditional Ethiopian dinner prepared by his head chef and served on the deck overlooking the lake. He arranged for us to meet with Welatew, who is the liaison for our projects in Ethiopia. We would only have a couple of hours the next day to visit schools and then head back to Addis so that we were not driving some of the more ‘dangerous’ parts of the road in the dark. We were able to visit one High School with a student population of 4000 in which the majority of the students come from far off rural areas. When I return to deliver bikes, I will allow for more time so that I can visit more schools in the area. After visiting the school we began our long journey back to Addis arriving late in the evening. The next day we were able to spend some time exploring the city and then off to the airport for our return home.
It was sad saying goodbye to Africa, but I felt proud of the work we did and I knew I would be returning soon with more bikes and new adventures to be had. I would like to give a very special “thank you” to Gail for volunteering her time and support to Pedals for Africa, for being my companion on this amazing journey, and for caring about the people of Africa. Also, “thank you” to all the donors, your generous donations made this delivery possible. Finally, a huge “thank you” to our friends and supporters in Africa that play a vital role in our projects.
Our future goals are to deliver 30 bikes to the high school in Ethiopia in November of this year and 80 bikes to schools in Malawi in June of 2010. So as you can see, we still need your support. Please visit the Fireweed page and give what you can. Please pass our information on to any and all of your family, friends, or businesses that you think might be interested. Our goal for the Fireweed fundraiser is to raise $10,000.
There is no music having a single sound. Different sounds are needed to give music harmony. -Dogon oral tradition
The Pedals for Africa board of directors would like to thank the following people and businesses for their generous support during our recent fundraiser held March 21st at the Grassroots Fair Trade store. We would like to send a ‘special thanks’ to Jill Dean, owner of Grassroots for hosting the event. Her business plays a vital role in the lives of so many people across this small globe. Thanks to the owners of the Chocolate Lounge for their sweet donation. Thanks to the local Sudanese community for contributing their time and talent to this event. Thank you Serewit for the lovely Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Thank you Sonia and Monica for donating the beautiful art. Finally, to all those who attended, thank you. Through this event and the donation box at Grassroots, we raised enough money to purchase 20 bikes for the ‘Malawi Project.’
Aside from our March fundraiser, we have a couple of exciting announcements. We passed all the IRS hurdles and we are now officially a 501c3 organization, which is great news for you because that makes all past and future donations tax exempt, yahoo!! Also, please note that Pedals for Africa is a volunteer based organization and no one is compensated for their time and all flight and travel cost accrued are paid for by the volunteers and NOT by donations made to Pedals for Africa.
Thanks to all your generous donations, we hope to purchase over 40 bikes for the schools that are participating in the ‘Project Malawi’ program. Gail Williamson, a Pedals for Africa volunteer, and I will be traveling to Malawi April 16th to deliver the long awaited bikes for the ‘Project Malawi’ program. The bikes will be purchased in Malawi, however we are not sure how many bikes will be available for purchase as we are doing business in Africa and this is par for the course. You will get the full report and hopefully some footage of the children receiving the bikes when I return home in May.
My African travels will also take me to Tanzania and Ethiopia. We are looking into developing a program in Tanzania that will provide employment opportunities for single mothers. While in Ethiopia, I will be visiting schools that are in dire need of bikes for their students. It should be a busy and productive trip. We will have an update with all the details when I return home.
Please click on the Fireweed Ride page and find-out how you can support these programs. We need your support for all these programs to happen; lets work together to make this planet a better place for all those who call it home.
Today’s globalization is based on competition and profit. It will achieve a truly human face only when everyone can say “I” while thinking “we.” -Aminata Traore
MY TRIP TO MALAWI
Visiting Malawi and her people was an amazing and unbelievable experience. I spent a week in a village in the Rumphi district and visited six schools in the area. For each of these visits I was greeted by members of the school committee, teachers, the principal as well as the local Chiefs. Everyone agreed that having bikes would be a great benefit to the children. They also felt that these programs would serve as a huge incentive to attract new kids to school and to keep the existing students in school.
Sadly, not a single school had electricity. Many had no desks, in fact, most had no furniture at all, just empty dark rooms. Students sit on the floor, often packed into ‘classrooms’ where books, paper and pencils are often not available or are in short supply. I felt such despair over the conditions of these schools yet at the same time I was amazed with the fact that they actually had students. Clearly, education is dearly valued. Most of the schools were built by community members, who have very little resources and even less energy to expand on projects beyond their own struggle for daily survival.
The level of poverty I witnessed throughout the country is indescribable. Having the privilege of staying in a village gave me a sobering opportunity to witness extreme poverty on a daily basis. It left a lasting impression.
Please help us at Pedals for Africa lend a hand to the people of Malawi. All of your financial help goes directly to the people with the goal of easing their suffering and increase their educational opportunities. Education can make a world of difference.
"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito" -African proverb