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Project Finds New Homes for Unwanted Bikes From US

This is the VOA Special English Development Report, from Americans bought an estimated eighteen and a half million bicycles last year. Some bikes never get much riding. Mostly they gather dust. But a project based in Washington is putting unwanted bikes from the United States to good use in developing countries. Keith Oberg is the director of Bikes for the World. He says: "Everybody has an old bicycle, and it is usually not ridden. It sits there in the garage, or basement or shed, going to waste." Stephen Popick recently had two bikes to donate. He brought in two mountain bikes that he and his wife rode for the past ten years. He said they would not be worth trying to sell but they could be useful to somebody else. Bikes for the World collects bicycles and delivers them at low cost to community programs in developing countries. It shipped more than five thousand bikes during the first eight months of this year. Last year it shipped about ten thousand three hundred. The bicycle recycling program is one of the largest in the United States. It is a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Bikes for the World began in two thousand five. Since then it has shipped more than forty thousand bikes to communities in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, says director Keith Oberg. He said they are working with partners in seven countries. They have sent bikes to Namibia and the Gambia. In Central America they sent bikes to Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala. And they are talking to two organizations in El Salvador. Bikes for the World partners with nonprofit groups in the United States to collect unwanted bikes. Then it works with nonprofits in the other countries to get the bikes to organizations and individuals that need them the most. For example, the Bicycle Empowerment Network Namibia uses the bikes to provide transportation for health workers. That makes it possible for them to visit more patients each day. The organization also has bicycle ambulance services to transport the sick. The Bicycle Empowerment Network also provides training and support to help local organizations and individuals open bike shops of their own. The businesses sell the recycled bikes at low cost and provide repair services. Many of the organizations use the money they earn to help pay for other community projects. And that's the VOA Special English Development Report. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 16Nov2009)
Length: 04:02


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