WESTFIELD — The Rotary Club of Westfield on October 7 collected 69 bicycles and four sewing machines to send to developing countries. These donated items will be divided between Togo in WestAfrica and Belize in Central America.
This program was started by an AmericanworkingwiththePeaceCorps in Ecuador. He noticed that a carpenter with a bicycle was a lot more productive than another carpenter who had to walk and carry his tools everywhere. This gave him the idea to start shipping used bicycles to the Third World. A bicycle will enable a person to get to work easier or produce more, if they run a small business. Children may be able to ride longer distances in order to attend school. Those who receive a sewing machine can potentially start their own small business and be able to support a family.
Besides changing an individual person’s life for the better, many bicycles will help raise the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of a country. Bicycles do not produce air pollution, and a shipment of 500 bikes creates jobs, since now the village will need a bike shop to perform repairs, fix flats and trade bikes.When the bikes arrive in the country, they are sold for a small amount to give them value. From the donations, road bikes go to countries with paved roads and mountain bikes go to countries with dirt roads.
Americans purchase 50 million bicycles annually, and dispose of 20 million perfectly good bikes in landfills every year.
The Rotary Club of Westfield joined this program in 2007. Rotarian Warren Rorden has been the committee chair for 26 years. In that time, Mr. Rorden revealed, the club has collected more than 2,500 bikes and 100 sewing machines.
The club works with the non-profit organizationPedalsForProgress,which collects and ships the bikes. In addition to the bikes, Westfield Rotary requests a monetary donation to help pay for shipping costs. For information about Pedals For Progress, visit p4p.org.
Twelve Rotarians came to the October 7 event to process the bikes, along with four more non-Rotarian volunteers, including high-school student Lydia Wright and a high-school Rotary Exchange student from France named Serena. People donating bikes came from multiple communities, among them Westfield, Scotch Plains, Cranford, Randolph and Sparta. One Rotarian brought 14 bikes.
The Rotary Club of Westfield meets the first three Tuesdays of each month for lunch at noon at Limáni Seafood Grill, located at 235 NorthAvenueWest, Westfield. Guests are always welcome. For information, check out the club website, www.westfieldrotary.com, or contact Club Secretary Dr. D. Michael Hart by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.