School Bikes Africa - Changing lives through Education


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Rotary Ireland has for over 6 years collected bikes and sent them to schools in Africa. In the intervening years over 3000 bikes have been collected by Rotary Clubs across Ireland.

The Irish Prison Service have been involved from the outset, establishing a Bike Shed at Loughan House Open Centre, where the bikes are refurbished. Individuals working in the bike shed not only develop the technical skills required to refurbish bikes, but their personal contribution is a means to improved motivation and has a positive influence on their self-esteem. 


Life is difficult for a child in Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa.   The early life of a child faces multiple health issues from trying to survive malaria to having a balanced diet.  Families are large and children are often sent to live with relatives.  Children have to work hard, often having to farm before and after school, sell at the market or manually work in the home to help make ends meet for the family.  Education suffers especially for children from rural areas whose families depend on farming for a living.

Many children have to walk a long distance to school, some over 5 km, often without adequate food or water.  A typical journey could take at least 90 minutes with children arriving late and tired for school.  Having to walk such long distances in hot sunshine to school and face the return journey at 2 pm in the afternoon when the sun is at its hottest is not conducive to students regularly attending school.

Having a bike to cycle to school makes a huge difference for a student.  Students tend to be more attentive at school having not had to walk a long distance.   Students look after the bikes and they tend to last them for many years.  In Africa the advantage of bike ownership in a family can enhance life immeasurably and can significantly improve their lives through access to education, work and essential services.

Having a bike is a huge status symbol for a student and they are so proud of the bikes they receive. Rotary Ireland are now sending bikes directly to the Gambia all that is required is that the wheel size be a minimum of 24 inches in diameter.

Old bikes give new lives to families in Africa. An unused bike in your garage could be life changing for a student in The Gambia.

Rotary appeal – at least once a year go into the community and collect suitable bikes, in reasonably good condition, to reiterate wheel size must be a minimum of 24 inches. The club is asked to make a contribution of €5/£5 with each bike collected to meet the cost of refurbishment and transport to Africa

Alternatively, clubs not collecting bikes, contribute €200 / £200 to School Bikes Africa direct to the District Treasurer Seamus Parle.

Contacts in Rotary Ireland

District Co-Ordinator’s

Jason Dempsey Kilkenny Rotary Club

E Mail Jason Dempsey jason.j.dempsey@aib.ie

M +353 860242344

John Trimble Enniskillen Rotary Club

E mail johntrimble642@gmail.com

M +447710800417

District International Services Chair Sean Dunne Newbridge Club

E mail seandunne2017@outlook.ie

M 00353872220055 

In summary

Only send Strong sturdy bikes that can withstand rough terrain – mountain bikes tyres or similar wheel size minimum 24 inches, bear in mind these are used over rough terrain by school children in the age group 12 years -17 years.

Do not collect Racers with narrow tyres and wheels, kiddie’s bikes with balance wheels under 24 inches and rusty old wrecks are not suitable.

Bikes must be in reasonable condition.

Clubs must liaise with one of the District coordinators prior to organising a collection.  

Send an email to either Jason Dempsey, John Trimble or Sean Dunne. As there may be capacity / storage issues in Loughan House they will agree a suitable timeframe for the collection to take place. A follow up email should be sent confirming the number of bikes collected.

When sending the bikes to the holding depo at Enniskillen Airport or The White House Ashbourne, the following procedure must apply.

A) Bikes must be tagged with the name of your club

B) Email sent to Jason Dempsey or John Trimble

C) Clubs delivering bikes to the White House must arrange delivery with Verity Swan Email swan.verity@gmail.com to arrange an appointment to deliver the bikes.

D) Clubs delivering bikes to Enniskillen must do so, during business hours only and with full cooperation of the person they speak to on the phone to make an appointment to deliver, giving due notice. The address is Enniskillen Airport, 62 Killadeas Road, Enniskillen, BT94 2FH Tel: 028 6632 9000.

 And finally send the money €5 / £5 per bike to cover your bikes directly to the District Treasurer payable to RIBI District 1160.