88bikes just announced their sixth project, dubbed Asha 2012, an initiative to give thousands of bikes to young girls from Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia who have been victims of slavery, abuse and in some cases, the sex trade. This project, their most ambitious one yet, was inspired by a 2010 endowment of bikes to every girl living in a remote ashram in Bihar, India where survivors of sexual slavery are brought after they are rescued or have escaped to be sheltered for several months before being reintegrated back into their communities. In the developing world a bicycle can open up doors for a young person, as it provides the freedom of self reliant, sustainable transportation so they can take their life into their own hands and as 88bikes explains it, become their own hero. For a young girl, a bicycle can tip the scales of gender inequality and give them a firm footing for a healthy and peaceful future.
88bikes was started in 2006 in partnership with Friends of Cambodian Children and raised enough money to give 88 bikes to 88 children at the Palm Tree Orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 2008 the non-profit gave 200 bikes to children at the Global Youth Partnership for Africa in Patongo, Uganda. Since then, hundreds of bikes have been given to children in developing communities around the world. In conjunction with their giving from their reclaimed mobile bike repair shop, 88bikes gives lessons to all of the children receiving bikes on bike repair and maintenance, safety, group bike rides and provides them with bike-based job skills.
All of the bikes the non-profit gives are bought from local merchants near the communities where the bikes will be endowed. For just an $88 donation, a bike is sent to a deserving child along with a photo of the person who provided the donation. In communities where vehicles are scarce and gas is expensive a bicycle can be the only mode of transportation for a child to get to school, a much needed job, or to deliver goods to a market or to receive healthcare at a clinic that is too far to walk to. Asha 2012 will provide that mobility to thousands of girls in dozens of countries and by doing so will give them hope for a brighter future than the past they came from.