Rotarians launch drive for bikes

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An initiative started by the Rotary club of Lisburn five years ago has helped change the lives of numerous African children by making education more accessible to them through the donation and refurbishment of unwanted bicycles

The donated bikes, from across Ireland, are refurbished in a purpose built repair facility by prisoners from Loughan House Open Centre in Cavan before being sent to Gambia.

Many of the Rotary clubs in Ireland facilitate the collection and refurbishment of these bikes from across Ireland, which are then delivered to Jole Rider, a charity which distributes them to schools in Gambia, Africa.

Donald Minshull, President of the Rotary Club of Lisburn said: “We are delighted with the success of the Jole Rider project to date and we are keen to see the donations reach the 2000 mark before Christmas. Each container we ship contains over 300 bikes and we are just 120 bikes away from filling our next container.

“We’d like to urge the people of Ireland to donate their unwanted bikes so we can get them refurbished and off to Africa as soon as possible.

“It’s also worth mentioning the type of bike that is suitable, these young people are travelling over rough terrain so mountain bikes will be better suited to their needs.”

Once donated, bikes are delivered to Loughan House Open Centre by Rotary clubs from all over Ireland and refurbished by a dedicated team of fully trained prisoners. Governor, Eddie Mullins is adamant the project has real local benefits. “At Loughan House Open Centre we run a series of social enterprise initiative schemes aimed at preparing prisoners for becoming part the community once again, the Jole Rider project is one of these and we have a purpose built bicycle repair workshop where the prisoners are trained as bike engineers,” he said.

“Through their work here they receive a City and Guilds qualification that we hope will benefit them and give them a purpose upon their release. At any one time we have around eight prisoners working as engineers on the project and we can really see the very positive impact that the work has on those that take part.”

To support this wonderful initiative and help Rotary Ireland to reach this milestone please consider donating your unwanted bicycles by visiting www.rotary.ie or by contacting your local Rotary club.