YOU COUNT...We Counted!
First and foremost, THANK YOU. 2019 was an incredible year at Bikes for the World and no one knows this more than our tiny staff...we could have never accomplished everything we did without you. If you like numbers and want a visual track of our progress we've created a fun infographic that walks you through our year. If you prefer your story telling in text keep reading below...
As you can see above we donated 11,410 bikes to 11 countries, including the U.S. This brings our overall total to 154,773 bikes delivered to 79 different projects in 29 countries since 2005. Phew, that's a mouthful. The majority of our bikes are helping students get to school, farmers tend to their fields, and helping create jobs or making existing employment more efficient.
Our biggest news regarding our partners is that we added TWO new partners and ONE new country in 2019. Last month we shipped to South Africa through a Rotarian connection and those bikes just arrived with Zwel Kids Club this week. We also have bikes on the way to Rwanda (our first time in the country) that will be delivered to Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association to help support rangers tracking and protecting the endangered Grey Crowned Crane.
Costa Rica continues to be our biggest recipient of bikes but not by much. The project supporting health initiatives in Madagascar is growing and they continue to add new communities to receive bikes. We are helping to set up new eBoxes there (basically bike shops) by sending shipments to new communities and assisting in purchasing containers, that will be converted into actual bike shops, and remain in the communities . Our partner in Burkina Faso is also increasing their bike effort. We shipped three containers to them just last year, doubling our support since we partnered with them in 2017.
MiBici in Costa Rica revamped their program in 2018 to make it more efficient and we saw that come to fruition in 2019. Executive Director Taylor Jones visited earlier this year and brought back a lot of stories shared here on our blog as well as valuable information to keep improving our shipments to meet the needs of the communities receiving bikes through our containers.
We are beginning our 2020 season by shipping our first container to Sierra Leone. We brought you many stories from this project over the last year following several females involved with Village Bicycle Project as well as the Cycling team that races in Lunsar. We were excited to share the news about Isata who became the first female mechanic in Sierra Leone and opened her own shop. She took on Rebecca as an apprentice and before the end of the year Sierra Leone had TWO female mechanics, both operating their own shops. These small community bike shops help support the remote areas where our bikes end up...and help generate jobs, facilitate transportation, and in this particular case, help change stereotypes about who can do what!
Again, the numbers above say it all, 13,595 bikes collected! This year the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek took the top spot again, collecting 746 bikes, but they also collect year round. For a one day event, Otterbein United Methodist Church in Hagerstown took the top spot with 288 bikes, but they had several events on their heels. One in particular is worth mentioning- Logan Hay who completed his Eagle Project at Irving Middle School in Springfield Virginia. Logan collected 255 bikes, at one point having over 50 in his living room! This is an Eagle Project record. At the end of our collection season we had 12 collections over 100 bikes and 6 over 200. If that doesn't impress you, consider this: this accounts for 75% of all the bikes collected at over 60 community led collection sites.
Other notables for our collection include: The Rotary Club of Carroll Creek topped 5,000 bikes this year. Trinity United Methodist Church in Alexandria had their biggest year ever. Flint Hill School engaged their pre-kindergarten class and brought us our youngest volunteers ever. The I-66 landfill location in Fairfax County broke 1,000 bikes collected in 2019.
Just to be clear, more bikes doesn't always mean the best collections. We continue to stress that the financial support is just as important (if not more) than just collecting bikes. We have to keep the trucks running (and rented), gas flowing, and the lights on in the warehouse to make it all possible. We'd like to acknowledge that eight of our community led collection events exceeded our $10 per bike goal average for their collections in 2019.
Last but not least, our volunteers continue to be the biggest asset of this organization. If you do more math you'll find that more than 9,000 volunteer hours logged over the year exceeds the number of paid staff hours for 2019. This is huge. And this is why we are able to do the amount of work we do, because of YOU! This year we engaged more school groups, scout troops, and corporate and civic groups in community service to improve our program and our community. Way too many to mention. In 2020 we anticipate opening our warehouse to these opportunities more and more.
Our Thursday night volunteer night continues to keep our warehouse clear and humming. We also have a regular crew of mechanics who come in to strip parts from marginal bikes. We have increased the quality of our shipments by shipping better quality bikes while keeping back those marginal or broken frames for parts. This means we are recycling what cannot be used overseas BUT shipping the parts, which are incredibly valuable to the mechanics fixing up your old bikes once they arrive in their country. As an example of how important these used parts are in rural villages, a replacement tube for a bicycle in South Africa costs as much as three loaves of bread. This is half of what a family makes for one full day of work. And assumes there is a bike shop nearby that sells a replacement tube- without it, the bike is useless.
So our vision is 20/20 in 2020....let's just keep rolling with the success we've got!