Collecting unwanted bicycles for Africa
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – Unwanted bicycles can be put to good use, and St. Michael Parish is making it easy through January for anyone in Hudson and the surrounding communities. A volunteer will pick up old or new bicycles, most of which will be shipped to Ghana, Africa, where many people have no access to other transportation. The pick-up drive is also collecting sewing machines, which can help create work for poverty-stricken women and girls in Ghana.
Single-handedly collecting the bikes and sewing machines is Dennis Wood, who organized an electronics and bicycle recycling event for the parish in the fall.
“It was a fundraiser for the church, and it definitely went well,” he said. “We got a lot of bikes, so I figured we's try a bike pick-up in January and see how it goes. Bikes that we throw out here are wanted and needed in Ghana.”
Wood will pick up any number of bikes from homes or businesses throughout the area.
“A lot of times people will have more than one bike,” he said. “They'se been saving them for over 20 years, especially the kids” bikes because the kids outgrow them so fast.”
A study commissioned by the African government revealed that adults walk an average of four hours a day and children walk 10 miles to school.
“Transportation is everything,” Wood said. “Why not help the country to the next step?
Bicycles allow them transportation, to be able to go to school, and to cut down on all the walking. Once people get transportation, then it's going to allow the country to progress and to create jobs. In countries like that, cars are too much of a luxury; a bike is a necessity.”
In addition to a means of transportation, the bicycles can be used instead of an unhealthy practice commonly done by young girls in Africa: head loading.
“A lot of the bikes we get have a basket on the front and on the back, so they can carry things that way,” Wood said.
The pick-up drive is accepting mountain, road, BMX bikes, and children's and adults” bicycles, even if they need some repairs.
“Any bike is a good bike, as long as it's operational and not too much rust to compromise it,” Wood noted. “They don's have to be in great condition. I can do some repairs, basically the rudimentary things – the tubes, tires, brakes and cables.”
Wood decided to add sewing machines for the pick-up drive and people have responded.
“I just picked up six sewing machines from somebody who did sewing classes – they'se all going to Ghana now,” he said. “They'se all portables, which is really nice because they can pick them up easily. Also, they don's have to use electricity; they can use a treadle on the bottom.”
The sewing machines can be used for the recipients to sew clothes for themselves and their families, as well provide an opportunity for work in Ghana, where the unemployment rate is extremely high.
Some of the bicycles collected will be donated to local churches and distributed to parishioners” families.
A strong supporter of recycling, Wood hopes the pick-up drive will be conducted annually.
“My parents were depression-era parents, and they taught me to finish what's on my plate and don's waste stuff,” he said. “Why should we be throwing bikes away when they can be reused? I totally believe in reuse, it's just the principal I have.”
To arrange a day and time to have a bicycle or sewing machine picked up, contact Dennis Wood at 508-277-7513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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