Ontario Man Collects Hundreds of Bikes for Africa

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Working with friends and family, Mark Nonkes collected over 500 bicycles destined for Namibia.

Nonkes, a member of Blyth (Ontario) Christian Reformed Church, lived in Namibia for the past three years and saw firsthand how much bicycles help improve life there. By cutting down travel time, a bike can

  • help people get to jobs.
  • help children get to school.
  • help people transport water and firewood.
  • help get ill or injured people medical attention.
  • help healthcare workers see twice as many people in a day.

Churches in several southern Ontario towns served as collection sites where people could donate bikes of any size and condition. Volunteers prepared the bikes for shipping by turning the handlebars sideways and removing the pedals and wiring them to the frame of the bike.

The bikes themselves also create employment. The shipping container in which the bikes arrive is purchased using donated funds and turned into a shop. Local people are hired to run it as a business where bikes are repaired, refurbished, and sold for a small price or, in cases of extreme need, donated.

Nonkes works with Bicycles for Humanity, an organization started by a Vancouver man in 2005. Nonkes runs the Huron chapter.

Looking over the rows of bikes collected, Nonkes said, “The big need now is funding to get them there.”

For more information, contact Nonkes by visiting their website: http://b4hhuron.org/

About the Author

Anita Brinkman is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Burlington, Ontario.

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