The art of spreading joy translates to all cultures and peoples, and really has no limits when it comes to locale or economic conditions. 88Bikes Foundation is heroically going the distance to share this message with its global “buy a child a bike” initiative. With the goal of providing a sustainable and empowering form of transportation to young people in developing countries (typically “in situations where children have been challenged to be their own heroes due to war, conflict, poverty, disease, or other regional hardships”), 88Bikes is making a real difference in the lives of kids who otherwise have a very difficult time experiencing the freewheeling spontaneity of childhood and good time fun.
88Bikes was founded in 2006 by writer and filmmaker Dan Austin, designer Nicolas Arauz, and pediatrician Jared Austin — and by November of the same year launched its first fundraising project in partnership with the Friends of Cambodian Children, to give 88 bikes to 88 kids. After exceeding its fundraising goal in just two weeks, the organization delivered 88 bikes in January of 2007 to children at the Palm Tree Orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Since then, this non-profit on the move has delivered wheels to children in war-torn Patongo, Uganda and Huancayo, Peru. Their 2010 focus is to deliver bikes to children who have been rescued from human trafficking in Ghana, India, Nepal and Vietnam. “There are 27 million slaves in the world today, many of them children. For kids rescued from slavery, their journey toward independence and healing is arduous.”
How 88Bikes Works
Once a location is selected, 88bikes reaches out using e-mail, social networking sites, and the personal networks of the founders, and collects donations from sponsors through its web site. Each donation is $88 dollars, the approximate cost of a bike in most developing countries. A bike sponsor also provides their name (or the name of a friend, if it is a gift), along with a photo of the donor. A list of all Sponsors is posted to the web site.
88Bikes travels in person to the chosen project site/locale and purchases bikes in-country from local merchants in order to benefit the region’s economy. The foundation’s staff receives no compensation or salary, nor do they maintain an office, in order that every bit of donations go to the delivering and setting up bike transfers to children at project sites.
“Each child is given their bike in person from the founders, on behalf of the individual Sponsor who donated their bike, along with a postcard that shows the Sponsor, a world map, and the Sponsor’s hometown. Photos and film of the project are made available to the Sponsors, and each Sponsor receives a thank-you letter with a photo of the child who received their bike.”
According to founder Dan Austin, it’s a “moment of happy” each and every time a bike is passed along to a very excited, though cautious child. Many of the recipients are far older than their years, having cared for younger siblings and other family members under very distressing circumstances. Having a new bike, though, gives these children a chance to be a kid once again and share in the magic of wheels that can take you places via the power of the pedal and your own free will.