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Rotary Club greasing the wheels of African bike donation project

ENNIS Rotary Club is urging the public to make a ‘wheel’ effort in continuing support of a project which is bringing bicycles to school children in Africa.
The initiative which sees people donate their unwanted, repairable bikes has already resulted in 157 bicycles shipped from Clare to Gambia.
The Rotary Ireland School Bikes Africa project, with the support of Clare County Council, gives members of the public across Clare the opportunity to bring their unwanted bicycles to the Central Waste Management Facility at Ballyduff Beg, Inagh.
From there, Rotary Ireland deliver the bicycles to the open prisons at Loughan House, County Cavan, and Shelton Abbey, County Wicklow, where they are refurbished by prisoners.
They are then shipped to Africa and distributed to school children, giving them the chance of a better future.
Michael Shepherd of Ennis Rotary told The Champion that they have been delighted with the response the project has received locally.
He outlined that there is now a need for more donations and he encouraged people to check their garages, sheds and more to see if there are any unwanted bikes which would be suitable for donation.
“More bicycles means more school success for many students in The Gambia, West Africa. It is now time to replenish the supply chain for this popular programme
co-ordinated by Ireland Rotary Clubs,” he said.
“The small African nation of Gambia has already received over 1,800 bicycles that, in turn, have been distributed to local school children in need of transportation to and from school,” he said.
Michael explained, “With the support of Clare County Council repairable bikes are collected at the Central Waste Management Facility in Inagh without charge.
“Then they are shipped to Loughan House & Shelton Abbey Open Centres for repair. Thus, providing opportunity for the prisoners there to learn useful skills.
“Rotary International then pays for full containers to be shipped to Gambia
where a local charity distributes them to those in need. To date 157 bikes have been shipped from County Clare.
“Now more bikes are needed to complete our allotment for County Clare.
“To merit repair and shipping costs bikes must have solid frames and at least 24 inch wheels and no excessive rust or other damage.”
Members of the public can donate unused and unwanted bikes at the Central Waste Management Facility in Ballyduff Beg, Inagh. Opening hours are as follows: Tuesday to Friday – 8.30am to 4.30pm and Saturday – 8.30am to 1pm.
The project was launched last year by Rotary Ireland and Clare County Council. Speaking about the project Annie Walsh from Ennis Rotary Club said, “Children in Africa often have to travel 10km or more to get to school and back in a day and doing this on foot, in extreme heat, can be difficult at best.
“We urge you to get involved and help to transform the lives of these children.”
Ms Walsh continued, “In providing these children with bikes for school, we are also helping those much closer to home. The prisoners at Loughan House and Shelton Abbey are also getting a chance of an education as the School Bikes Africa project allows them to study for a bike mechanic training course, which can help with their rehabilitation back into society and increase their job prospects.”
A spokesperson for Clare County Council said they are “delighted” to support this initiative with funding received from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment Anti-Dumping Initiative.
“Members of the public can bring their bikes for free to the Central Waste Management Facility, Ballyduff Beg, Inagh, County Clare. Bikes must be in reasonable condition. If a new chain, saddle or brake cable is required that is fine but if a bike is buckled or very rusted, then it is not suitable for this scheme,” the local authority spokesperson stated.

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