Rotary Club of Belfast

Jole Rider - Bikes for Africa

Getting a child to school in Africa

In 2012 the Club with 12 other Rotary Ireland Clubs collected bikes to be sent to be refurbished by inmates of the Irish Loughan House Open Centre, an open low security prison in County Cavan and then delivered to Jole Rider, a charity which distributes them to schools in West Africa.

Although the Club is not currently actively participating in this scheme collections throughout the UK and in Ireland are still continuing and Rotary Ireland handed over its 2000th bike in November 2016. 

The project has also helped in the rehabilitation of prisoners who are soon to be released back into society by giving them a real sense of community, something to be proud of and providing them with skills that will be useful when they are reintroduced to society, especially the expertise to become bicycle engineers and to even gain a City and Guilds Qualification which many can use to make a better life upon their release.

bikes4Africa logo

jole rider bikeswas founded in 2006 by Directors David Swettenham and Helen King. David was planning to ride with his son from John O'Groats to Lands End (Jole) in 2004 but could not identify a suitable charity to support. Hearing that bikes were needed by children in Africa they went out to investigate in the Gambia and became aware of the children's dire need and the major barrier to their education with the resulting impact on their families and the economy.

Many African children live in remote communities, a long way from their nearest school and without reliable, affordable, motorised transport getting to school for them means walking in searing heat for heat for hours over rough terrain and arriving late and exhausted; a huge barrier to their education.

With African governments not having money to build more schools, or provide fleets of school buses, bikes are a simple, low-cost, low-tech solution to the problem. bikes4Africa is the flagship programme of the charity Joel Rider in support of its mission: to change lives through education and aims to refurbish and deliver to Africa second-hand bikes for children and young people enabling them to reach their potential.

laughing girlJole Rider's first container of bicycles from the UK was sent to Africa in April 2006 to three schools making an immediate impact on the lives of more than 300 children and to date has changed the lives of tens of thousands of children. Every bike delivered not only gets a child to school, but affects the lives of as many as 9 others, including school peers and family members as with these bikes schoolchildren can: get to school and arrive on time not late, begin the day alert not exhausted, arrive home earlier and help families more, stay safe by travelling in daylight and as a result reach higher academic achievement

The project itself is self sustaining as training is given locally to repair bikes and spare parts are available for purchase.

Jole2In 2011 Jole Rider's founding Director, David Swettenham, spoke to the Club about the charity and how RIBI Clubs are participating with them. Photo shows President Adrian Kerr with David Swettenham and co Director Helen King.





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