Letter from Village Bicycle Project, Sierra Leone

News released on: 
Apr 23rd, 2013

Dear Bikes Not Bombs,

Thank you so much for the container you sent to Sierra Leone!  Chris Harbert-Erceg and I, Kimberly Reid, are currently volunteering from the US in Sierra Leone with the Village Bicycle Project. We just wanted to let you know that the container arrived safely and was unloaded on the evening of April 9th.  Unloading here typically occurs at night because there is less traffic and fewer people around, so there is a lower probability that one of the bicycles will “walk away." We started the process at 9pm and finished a little after 1am with approximately 12 people continuously working and several others rotating in and out and keeping their eyes on the equipment to make sure it was safe.  

The unloading happened on Kissy Road which is one of the main and busiest roads in Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown. It is also the location of our importer Richard’s bike shop where we are storing this shipment of bicycles. Traffic on this two lane road had to be directed around us as we started the four-plus hour unloading process. This unloading was also interesting because the electricity in the city was not working so several of us had headlamps while others carried flashlights so we could see what we were doing. Freetown often does not have power, and this power outage had been going on for about a week already. Originally we were going to use a generator to turn on the lights in the shop, but we discovered that there was a leak in its fuel tank! Since there is also a fuel shortage going on here currently, making the price of fuel high, buying more fuel that may also leak out did not seem like a great option. As people say a lot here “we managed” and were able to unload “no problem”.  Volunteers in Sierra Leone unloading a shipment of bikes from BNB

The shop is now piled high with bicycles and equipment and we are excited to use them to do more programming throughout the country.  Forty of the bicycles have already been shipped to Lunsar, Sierra Leone (about a three hour drive from Freetown) to be fixed up and used in our one-day workshop programs. The solar panel also arrived in one piece and is also in Lunsar waiting to be set-up.

As I’ve discovered in the past two months of volunteering here, life in Africa can be very challenging, but bicycles really can make a huge difference. Thank you so much for everything you do and for helping the Village Bicycle Project to exist. Your efforts are greatly appreciated and are making large impacts in Sierra Leone.

We also want to add that we just heard about the recent bombings in Boston and want you to know that we are thinking of you in this difficult time. Unfortunately it shows that organizations like yours are still very much needed and there is still a lot of work to be done. Once again thank you for all that you do and please know that we are thinking about you.

Thanks again,

Kimberly Reid and Chris Harbert-Erceg
Village Bicycle Project