A Common Tread
Janet lives in the northwest portion of Ghana known as Gombele. She travels to the city center of Lawra to take part in the VocATE program offered through Action Through Enterprise (ATE) which helps provide food for students in school and training and support for small local businesses.Through ATE's apprentice program, Janet works closely with Theresa who owns the shop where Janet is training to become a seamstress. She dreams of owning her own tailoring business someday. Actually she is working toward it!
Just last month Janet and several other apprentices in Lawra received bicycles through Village Bicycle Project. VBP delivered 100 bikes to this region, some from our own containers donated from Bikes for the World. Those bikes would have been collected by our community partners back in April.
Most people in Lawra either become teachers or nurses. Given the extreme heat of the region there is a lack of development and food is scarce. Many people struggle to pull themselves out of poverty. ATE recognizes the challenges faced by individuals and business owners living in a poverty stricken area. They offer business loans to shop owners who need to purchase equipment or supplies. For young talented entrepreneurs, they developed an apprentice program, with incentives for business owners, where they can receive on the job training while working toward building their own businesses.
Janet, Lawrencia, and Millicent all entered the program this year and they travel nearly seven miles a day between work and home. Additionally, outside the commute and long days at work, they also have many responsibilities at home, taking care of their families and finding food in a community where many people go hungry several days a week.
When VBP arrived in town with over 100 bicycles, they were first in line for training. The women received bikes through the program as well as basic maintenance skills. The classes were taught by VBP staff and an ATE supported local bike shop owner known as Mr. Malik. Mr. Malik helped get the apprentices and about 80 students in two local schools oriented with their new bikes, teaching them how to change a tire and keep the chains free of dirt. He hopes he also developed a relationship with many potential new clients, part of VBP's model.
When Millicent received her bike she was all smiles and said, "now I will be the first one to work every day!" All the apprentices will shorten their commutes into Lawra saving them hours every day to complete household chores and errands. They will also save a lot of energy. Janet was so happy when she received her bike she asked VBP to send us her personal thank you and we are passing that on to YOU!