3 minutes reading time (678 words)

Milkman Delivers By Bike

Fred Musunda has never visited our nation's capital, he's not holding a ticket to see Hamilton, nor has he ever heard of the Kennedy Center. But Fred owes his livelihood to the living memorial perched on the banks of the Potomac River.  How's that you ask? Yes, it seems like an odd connection, but it's a small world, after all.

Fred lives near Kampala the capital city of Uganda. Fred may know very little about the capital city of our nation, or even that there's a hit musical called Hamilton currently showing at the Kennedy Center, but what he does know is how to transport milk. Fred makes a living delivering milk from the rural farms in Matugga where it's produced, to the urban families who need it to keep their babies healthy and growing.

Delivering milk in Africa is an important, yet dangerous job that Fred knows all too well. Milk plays an important role in food security and the fight against malnutrition, however transporting it from the rural farms to the urban markets and individual households keeps the African milkmen busy. The distance between Matugga and Kampala is nearly 10 miles over sometimes impassable roads. In the area where Fred collects and sells milk, there are 35 collectors who sell the locally produced raw milk and dairy products like ghee and butter. 

The bike plays an important role in this business. Transporting perishable dairy products over 10 miles in the heat of Uganda is something you need to do quickly; there are no air conditioned trucks making the journey. Not only that, Fred pointed to the rainy season when explaining the importance of owning a bicycle in this business.

"Bicycles play a big role in the milk collection industry since most roads out of town are not easily accessible by motor-vehicles. During rainy season, milk production is high and yet the roads in Matugga are impassible and only bicycle riders can access farmers."

Fred Musunda

Fred transports two cans of milk every day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Each can holds 10 gallons of milk and weighs over 80 pounds. While Fred's old bike was rusty and falling apart he was hesitant to replace it with another one because he needed a reliable bike with a strong, heavy rack to haul those heavy milk containers between farms and markets.

When Fred found this brand new Atlas bike (seen in the right side photo above and also below) for sale in his community he couldn't believe his luck. This bike looked almost identical to his old bike, with hand brakes to control the bike while walking, fenders to keep him dry in the rainy season, and most importantly a nice sturdy, heavy rack that could absolutely handle a full container of milk. When the other milk collectors saw Fred's bike they immediately wanted to know where they could get one just like it.
Bikes for the World delivered the new Atlas bikes to our partner program in Uganda after receiving them from the Kennedy Center. Back in 2012, Nao Tsurumaki, of the International Programming Office at the Kennedy Center, contacted Bikes for the World looking for a way to make a greater impact with the 28 bicycles they had on display as part of the special exhibit on India that year. The bikes were fully functional although they had never been used on the road. The Kennedy Center acquired them for the international program and needed to remove them quickly after the exhibit was broken down.

Bikes for the World swooped in and rescued the bikes which would be included in a container heading to Uganda later that year. One of those Atlas bikes ended up in Fred's hands. Fred nearly doubled the income he made selling milk from his bicycle by increasing the number of stops he could make in one day. With the bicycle, Fred is also able to help the rural farmers deliver milk year round, even during periods of low production, which helps the dairy farmers budget regular income for their families.
Tailwinds to Bob Leftwich
Featured Volunteer: Records Family