I just reached Sierra Leone, where I’m meeting our Ghana Programs Coordinator Jason Finch and our fall volunteer Joe Diomede, with the stated goal of scaling up our Sierra Leone program towards matching the output of our Ghana program.
Since 2009 we have held programs here during 6 to 8 weeks each year, using short-term volunteers and myself to provide the logistical glue to complete the one-day program (modeled after Ghana) and distribute the bikes. With Joe committed to 3 months, and Jason’s intensive six months of work with the Ghana team, we think this may just be the opportunity to pull all the parts together so that our SL team can hold programs year-round.
Joe has extensive background in the bicycle business, having twice owned bike shops. He also recently published a book of his world travels, Cycles of a Traveler, a multi-modal transnavigation of the globe, much of it by bicycle.
Sierrs Leone’s need for bicycles is dramatic. Despite expecting to have the fastest growing GDP worldwide in 2012, at 36% this growth tells us mostly that Sierra Leone has been extremely stagnant. The growth is from huge iron ore mining operations that is not trickling down much to the average person.
REQUEST FOR TANDEM BICYCLES
I ran into the organizer of one of our rural programs from last year. He reminded me of his request for tandem bicycles to help the many people afflicted with river blindness. I hope that some of you can help get some bicycles-built-for-two to Maforki, Sierra Leone. Please contact us if you have a tandem to donate!