For more than six years, Rotary Ireland has collected more than 5,000 bikes and sent them to schools in Africa.
The Irish Prison Service have been involved from the outset, establishing a ‘Bike Shed’ at Loughan House Open Centre in County Cavan.
There, the bikes are refurbished. Individuals working in the bike shed not only develop the technical skills required to refurbish bikes, but their personal contribution is a means to improved motivation and has a positive influence on their self-esteem.
The bikes have been collected by Rotary clubs across the Emerald Isle and now the latest shipment of 275 cycles have just arrived in The Gambia.
These will be used to help children who have to travel long distances to school.
Executive Director of CADO Frances Mendy thanked Rotary Ireland, who co-ordinate the work on the bikes with inmates at Shelton Abbey and Loughan House open centres.
He said: “This initiative has already provided 1,440 bicycles to Gambian students across the country.
“With this resource, students can thrive in their education and also contribute to other important causes like reducing waste and saving the environment.”
For the past six years Rotary Ireland have been collecting unwanted bikes from households around Ireland and sending them to Loughan House & Shelton Abbey Open Centres for repair before shipping them to school children in Gambia to help them get to education.
This initiative has already provided 1,440 bicycles to Gambian students across the country.”
Governor of Loughan House Mark Lydon told the Sunday World: “The project has given the prisoners a real sense of community and something to be proud of as they help to make a positive impact on the lives of the young people in Africa.
“Here at Loughan House we aim to offer a number of activities that will help to rehabilitate our prisoners and provide them with skills that will be useful when they are reintroduced to society.
“The project provides them with the expertise to become bicycle mechanic and to even gain a City and Guilds Qualification which we are confident many can use to make a better life upon their release.
“The guys here work really hard and with passion and this project gives them a real sense of pride, to be involved in something which is helping others is an important part of their lives.
“We are very grateful for the support from Rotary that these prisoners are given this opportunity.”