Village Bicycle Project

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Village Bicycle Project
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Project Type(s):



Region: Any region
Country: Ghana
Volunteer(s) Name: PCV Kennedy
Year of project approval: 2001
Projects started in Ghana 2001 (1).
Village Bicycle Project
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Other Projects in Ghana (41).
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Info about the Village Bicycle Project

Contents

Title

Village Bicycle Project

Purpose and Approach

Village Bicycle Project offers a one-day class in bike maintenance and repair that includes discounted bicycles, (prices are on page 5). In order to qualify for the reduced bikes, attendees must fully participate in an 8 hour bicycle repair workshop. It is limited to 20 people, and focuses on preventative maintenance, puncture repair and adjustments. We require that at least 20 percent of the participants are women and encourage you to make it even more. It is not true that women cannot learn bike repair and we ask that you help dispel such stereotypes in your community.

We suggest that you print this out and save it. There is a lot of information here you will need to refer to throughout the process of:

  1. initial application,
  2. ordering bikes, and explaining the peculiarities of the program to the community,
  3. when the program comes, and
  4. report and follow-up.

(Syllabus is available on line at villagebicycleproject.org/onedayout.htm)

We’ve held about 200 of these workshops with Peace Corps Volunteers since 2001. PCVs report that organizing the program is a lot of work, so keep that in mind! Many have also reported that it was among the best things they did for their communities during their two years.

Why they must attend a class to get a bike:

  1. A little maintenance saves a lot of money and time. Many people are inclined to simply hop on and ride away. The class makes them stop and notice how things work. A little preventative maintenance teaches for example, that riding on under inflated tires will cost many cedis in replacement of spoiled tires and tubes.
  2. The class discourages scammers from buying discounted bikes only to then sell them on the open market, thus depriving those we wish to benefit.
  3. The class and cost-sharing make it more likely that the people are serious about owning and caring for their bicycles.

Class participants are each entitled to one bike. Those arriving late, leaving early or missing portions of the class may be disqualified and will receive their money back. This message has not been adequately reaching the participants, and we commonly have someone show up two hours late to pick their bike and go. People become annoyed, and our trainers have to explain it again. PLEASE BE SURE THAT EVERYONE KNOWS THE RULES. Attendance and participation is required, punctuality is rewarded, bikes are not chosen till the end, the trainers chose the bikes to be made available each day.

The bicycle must be paid for in full before the class begins. VBP is unable to provide any additional discount or credit. Payment is fully refundable (except lunch) if the buyer is unhappy with the selection, or doesn’t show up. Its good to have several extra people (with money) standing by in case a registrant doesn’t show up.

Bikes are not chosen until the end of the class. We suggest that those who arrive in time for the start of the class should be given first pick of bicycles. Everyone who is present at the announced start time can draw a number from a hat. Those who are late will pick their bike in order of first come first served. This helps discourage people from coming in three hours late.

In many cases our bicycles have components that may be new to the fitters (i.e. bike repairers) in your area. We want local fitters to be involved in the class and the preparation of the bikes to familiarize them with any aspects of our bikes that they are not experienced with. They will receive special tools, spare parts and a half-day personal training before the class. They will be the people the bike recipients will go to for major repairs after we’re gone. The local fitters are key to the sustainability of the bikes in your community, and they will also benefit by getting to know some of the best people in the Accra bike market.

A set of repair tools will be awarded to the group. The tools are to be the property of the group, and are to be made available for use by all group members. You and your community will choose where the tools will be kept and any rules governing their use. A second trip to your village will not include a second set of community tools.

During the class days it is expected that you will attend, and manage crowd control, sending away curious onlookers as soon as they become disruptive. Take pictures and help out during practicals, making sure that all participants have a chance to do all the repairs and adjustments. Be available in case the instructors need anything. Participants are more likely to get unruly or uncooperative when the PCV is absent. If the trainers are unhappy with a community, they refuse to return for more programs.

Women’s Classes

VBP also has classes with a curriculum tailored to women. The requirements are the same as the regular class, only the curriculum is different and, when possible, it is taught by female instructors. If you plan to hold more than five workshops, then one of them should be women-only.

Youngsters (experimental idea)

We have found that if there’s one or two small children attending they are overwhelmed by the adults, so anyone under 12 must have someone older with them in attendance. However, if there are five or more kids, we can try to split them into a separate program. We have seen seven year olds flourish in small groups with other kids.

Advanced Classes

After everyone has their bikes we can do an advanced class. This is a 4-hour workshop for those who want to learn more repair. Local repairers can also join the advanced class. At the end of every advanced class tools are sold to the participants at half-price. Participants will bring their bikes and their specific questions and at the end of the class they can purchase tools, one of each type, based on first come first served. No stand-ins are allowed. If you haven’t attended a One-day class, you cannot attend advanced class. In addition to furthering people’s knowledge, the advanced class is one way to increase the availability of tools that may be unique to our bicycles.

Organizing an advanced class is easy. If three workshops have been held in your community, then you are urged to hold an advanced class. So if you plan to register people for three workshops, plan an advanced class for the fourth day. Same if the previoius PCV had one workshop you’re doing two. Let them know of the Advanced class when they sign up and again during the One-day class. Those who are interested will come and our instructors will do the rest. There is a limit of 25 people per advanced class and you must inform VBP before we come if you intend to offer an advanced class so that we bring the tools. Read on for a complete list of tools and prices. Be forewarned that tool availability varies but we will do our best to bring everything on the list. Prices are subject to change without notice. These are January 2009 prices, expect them to be no more than one-third higher in January 2010.

Action Plan

Application Part One

(Please write a brief description to answer each question were appropriate.)

  1. Provide the following information about the community. Your name, what you do, your COS date your phone number, and an alternate in your community in case for some reason we can’t reach you. Also Village/town name and population. Distance to nearby market towns, and major towns. Local language(s). Road directions for how to get there from Accra, not which car to take.
  2. Select workshop location that is sheltered from sun and rain and able to keep out most curious onlookers. Unenclosed workspaces make for many problems.
  3. Locate storage for the bikes. The further you are from Accra, the longer you may have to wait from the time the bikes are delivered to the time of the program. We hire a truck that drops all the bikes in the villages, and then the trainers come back to do the programs. Sometimes one month will pass between the arrival of the bikes and the actual program.
  4. Choose local bicycle repairers to be closely involved with the workshop. Limit two per program in the south and three per program in the north. Include their names. The local fitters are crucial to sustainability of your community’s bikes, so please make a serious effort.
  5. Locate housing for the team. Sometimes there will be four people, (two men, two unrelated women) and sometimes only two men. The women will need a room separate from the men. The length of stay depends on how many workshops you will hold and your distance from Accra. We need protection from mosquitoes and rain. We need mattresses, washing water and places that are secure from theft. We need to be shown where to bathe and use the toilet. Usually the trainers are well taken care of by host PCVs, but there have been some shameful exceptions. Please make sure our people are taken care of.
  6. Arrange to feed the class participants and add the cost to the bike price. It can be very simple, like kenkey and fish, or groundnuts and bananas. If we don’t feed them they usually don’t eat, and then they don’t pay good attention in the afternoon. Include locally acceptable drinking water. Tell us your feeding plan. The food MUST be ready no later than 1 PM each day. No need to feed the Advanced class.
  7. Apart from the noon meal, make certain that there is some place where we can get food. This is to be sure we don’t go hungry in some small small village that doesn’t have street food and chop bars. We often pay for our own food. George, one of our lead trainers, has diet restrictions; no meat, okro, groundnut soup or chicken. Sometime PCVs arrange to feed us and add something to the bike price to cover it.
  8. Select someone to administer the tools we give. The tools should be made available for use by all bike recipients. Include their name, and their role in the community.
  9. Have someone ready as interpreter, if necessary. Our trainers know most major Ghanaian languages except Ewe. We’ve known interpreters who’ve told the class to not ask any questions so they could close early, so pick your interpreters carefully!!
  10. How will participants be chosen? How will payment be collected? How much of this work will be delegated to a counterpart? It is ESSENTIAL that the rules of the program are very well understood by all. Our trainers waste a lot of time arguing with hotheads who don’t understand that we aren’t just selling bikes. The trainers have been instructed to insult you if it happens again ;~) Sidenote: Twice out of 200+ workshops someone has delegated the signups and money collection to a counterpart and been ripped off. In one case, the person just disappeared with the money. When signups are delegated wholesale to someone in the village, that person suddenly has a lot of power. It is an opportunity to pay back old debts, to endear or indebt others and a chance to collect something small for the service. We’ve also seen one person control all the money and actually own all the bikes. He later collected the bikes back when he raised the price and the people couldn’t pay. Minimize the problems by being more personally involved in picking recipients. If each person pays you themself for the bike, it is more likely their own money, and their own bike. We don’t want VBP to be just one more conduit for Africa’s endemic corruption.
  11. How many workshops do you want to hold? How many women’s classes? Keep in mind that there should be 20 people per class. It will be easier to reduce later than to add so estimate high. Do you intend to hold an advanced class? Do you anticipate many children under 12 years old?

Email application to [email protected] for approval and scheduling. Once we receive your application, you will be given a rough estimate of when we can hold the workshops and when you’ll need to complete sign-ups, collect money, and order your bikes.


Application Part Two

Part Two of the application process is where you register participants, collect money and order the bikes.

Scheduling Workshops and Bicycle Availability

Precise scheduling for your programs is impossible. We can give you an approximation about two months ahead. This is because we allocate your bicycles from shipments as they are loaded in places across the seas. Once shipped, the bikes can reach the Tema port anywhere from one week early to four months late. The best way to deal with this is to be vague with your community and flexible.

VBP intends to inform you when your bikes have left their source overseas, which means probably three months or less to wait. It might be a good idea to not begin collecting money until the ship with your bikes on it has sailed. The longer you hold people’s money the more nervous they get, and the more they will be worrying you about when the bikes are coming. But if you wait too long to start collecting money, maybe people will not be able to save up in time.

Another problem arises when we don’t receive enough quality bikes in the shipment. It would help if you were to ask the community to be willing to accept a bike different from what they requested, and take the refund. For example, say someone wants a mountain bike at GH¢27. Is s/he willing to accept a straight bar narrow tire and a GH¢8 refund? We often have more requests for mountain bikes than we can meet, so any flexibility in your community helps.

Once you have registered everyone and the type of bicycle they want (see types of bicycles, prices below) you can place your order to George or Samson in Accra (we’ll tell you which one). From this point on they will be your main contact people for scheduling and details. They will give you a deadline to place your order, please respect it.

George Aidoo 024-381-4582, 027-740-1928 [email protected] Samson Ayine 024-276-6759, 020-819-2139 [email protected]

Placing Your Order

Anticipate what style and size of bikes you want. Note whether each person is short medium or tall and we’ll try to bring comparable sized bikes, you don’t want anyone stuck with a bike too big or too small. Prices listed below are one-half of Accra price, as of January 2009.

Prices
Bike Size Price (GHC)
Mountain bike (24” and 26” wheels) 27
Narrow tires, either racer or street bar 19
British mail bike w/basket frame and mountain wheels 24
Children’s bikes 11

Pictures are available available at http://www.VillageBicycleProject.prg/onedaybikes.htm Please check with George or Samson for the latest info on prices and available styles.

Cut and paste the matrix below then email it to George or Samson and to [email protected]

Bike Order Matrix'
Name Gender Bike Style Size (S,M,L) Price* Flexible?** (Yes or No)
Participant 1
Participant 2
[add rows as needed]

Budget

Peace Corps Resources

Recruit other volunteers to help because you will need it!


Project Reflection and Sustainability

Advice from PCVs

Advice from VBP Staff

After the Workshop

Completing a report. We welcome your feedback. Really! Your report will help us do follow-up studies of the workshop and to learn if the project accomplishes our goals. It can also help us fund more workshops.

  1. Who signed up the participants, who handled the payment for the bikes, and how did it go?
  2. Does the workshop and bikes adequately address the transport needs of those people who need them most? Why or why not?
  3. The names of the village repairers, what they received, and a little bit about the personal training they got.
  4. A photo of the group with their bikes.
  5. The rumor mill says VBP is difficult to work with. True or false? Why or why not? How can we do better?
  6. Interview three people about how the bikes improve their lives. If possible, take photos of each of the three interviewees with their bikes.
    1. How do they use their bike?
    2. How does it help them, if it helps them?
    3. Does it save money?
    4. How did they get the money to pay for the bike?
    5. Did they learn anything helpful at the workshop?
    6. What do they wish the workshop would have taught that it did not?

Send by email or post. [email protected] Village Bicycle Project, 913 S. Jefferson, Moscow, ID 83843 USA.

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