Share The Ride: Bringing Bikes to School Children in Botswana

Aug 22, 2019
by Big Mountain  
Views: 437    Faves: 0    Comments: 1



Teaming up with our sponsors and distributors globally, Pinkbike's Share the Ride raises money to bring disadvantaged children from all over the world the opportunity to share the joy of being on two wheels by providing them with bicycles, helmets and locks. Since its inception in 2013, the foundation has raised over $200,000 and brought smiles to hundreds of children around the world. Information on the Share the Ride foundation can be found at pinkbike.com/sharetheride.


Photos Ben Haggar

“Mountain biking has meant everything to me” says Joe. “Without mountain biking, I would be nothing. I have achieved a lot; success and good health from riding.” This is Joe, or Kgosi Johan Rakumako, a former safari mountain bike guide in Botswana’s Tuli Block. Whistler-based Chris Winter met Joe for the first time in 2005, while he was researching a mountain bike safari adventure for his mountain bike tour company, Big Mountain Bike Adventures. Back then, it was clear to Winter that Joe had a passion in his eyes and his sights were set high. Mountain bike guiding created opportunities for Joe that he could not have imagined. Fifteen years later, Joe is now the Chief of his village of Pilikwe, located about four-hundred kilometers north of the capital, Gabarone, and near the border of Zimbabwe.

This past April Joe organized a Share The Ride event with Winter in Pilikwe village. “For the kids of Pilikwe this is a huge opportunity," he says. "We have two events coming up in September where they'll compete in junior cycling events, some of the kids dream of becoming professional riders. Plus, the government has activity days in schools where they do athletics and now it helps our school to have bike rides to motivate kids with their education." School head Ms. Gaamangwe Mfheladi acknowledged the donation and went on to say "the bikes will play a significant role in the school’s physical education program and would encourage the pupils to attend school with interest." For Joe, things have come full-circle and he can now share with the youth of his community what mountain biking provided him thanks to Share The Ride.


Photo Ben Haggar
The kids from Pilikwe performed a traditional dance ceremony at the Share The Ride event that was an unforgettable experience.

Photo Ben Haggar
From bike guide to chief of his village, Johan attributes everything that he has in life to mountain biking.

Photo Ben Haggar
Eventhough school was out at the time of the STR event, all the students, most of the village and some local government dignitaries came out.

Photo Ben Haggar
A few teachers happily giving the bikes a test drive before the kids take them.

Photo Ben Haggar
Formerly one of the poorest countries in the world, Botswana has transformed itself into one of Africa's strongest economies.

Photo Ben Haggar
Girls riding bikes = opportunity.

Photo Ben Haggar
Huge thanks to Nicole Baudisch from Whistler Blackcomb, the Trek Dirt Series & Coastal Culture Sports in Whistler & Big Mountain Bike Adventures for donating jerseys for the kids.

Photo Ben Haggar
Local elders checking out the action.

Photo Ben Haggar
Bostwana's worldclass game reserves teaming with wildlife like lion, zebra, girraffe and more. This is where Johan honed his riding and guiding skills on a mountain bike.


Interested in hosting a Share the Ride event in your community? We are always happy to hear from you - please let us know more about yourself HERE



22 Comments

  • 15 2
 My wife did Peace Corps in a remote village in southern Africa. The village had no electricity. With the very noblest of intentions, a German non-profit came to the village one day and, with much fanfare, installed a solar panel to provide power to the village. Many photographs of gratefully smiling villagers were taken. The nonprofit heroes left. The solar panel broke within a week. The end.
  • 8 1
 My thoughts exactly. Spare parts? Service, what do these bikes look like 2 months down the line? Flat wheels, missing chains? Let's see a follow up story on this one.
  • 9 1
 Good intentions, wrong bike. Should have been rigid single speed with solid rubber tires and coaster brakes
  • 5 2
 Show us that those bikes are being used six months from now, benefiting their lives after the cameras are gone. *That* would be fantastic and inspiring.
  • 11 1
 Botswana is one of the more stable countries in Africa, with a long running democracy. The village chief was a professional bike guide. They have cars, and public school systems. It's not like the bikes were paradropped into Mogadishu. These bikes will be kept up just fine.
  • 3 8
flag Phillyenduro (Aug 22, 2019 at 9:51) (Below Threshold)
 @ski-or-die: Cool. Prove it.
  • 3 2
 @Phillyenduro: I mean, I can Google that for you. Click on "Open All" under the image of the map, and settle in for a read...

"Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name at independence in 1966. More than five decades of uninterrupted civilian leadership, progressive social policies, and significant capital investment have created one of the most stable economies in Africa. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party has won every election since independence; President Mokgweetsi Eric MASISI assumed the presidency in April 2018 following the retirement of former President Ian KHAMA due to constitutional term limits. MASISI is Botswana’s fifth president since independence. Mineral extraction, principally diamond mining, dominates economic activity, though tourism is a growing sector due to the country's conservation practices and extensive nature preserves. Botswana has one of the world's highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection, but also one of Africa's most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with the disease."

www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bc.html
  • 2 3
 My "prove it" was meant to refer to your "These bikes will be kept up just fine." Discovering the existence of cia.gov/library made the confusion worth it, though.
  • 5 2
 @Phillyenduro: not sure why you're being so negative. The village chief is a bike guide and will be maintaining the bikes (read the article). You make it seem like just because they are in a 3rd world country they can't figure out how to maintain a bike. Bikes and solar panels are not the same thing.
  • 3 0
 Yes, having lived in Botswana for 6 years during the late 90's I can confirm there is a lot of that sort of charity work. I used to ride when I could but I got hundreds of punctures because every plant (including grasses) has thorns. The Kalahari sand is super soft and mostly unrideable (fat bikes weren't around back then). The roads are not very safe as street lighting is only around the bigger cities and there is cattle wondering about freely. This is a nice idea and I'm glad the school is keeping the bikes rather than giving them to the kids, as they would probably end up being sold or swapped for cell phones etc. Botswana might have a decent economy by African standards but that is down to its diamonds and there is still lots of poverty.
  • 2 0
 @ThunderChunk: I don't think raising obvious questions about whether the recipients are actually benefiting is being negative. If they have real answers to those questions, I hope they give them, I bet it would persuade more people who have the same questions to support them. If the recipients aren't actually benefiting, and this is just a half-baked photo op cooked up in a cubicle by a Trek marketing intern, that'd be worth knowing too.
  • 1 0
 Sorry, I mistook what you said. I’m annoyingly optimistic about some things, but acknowledge that a follow up would be fun to see. I LOVE the CIA’s database! Use it on all of my obscure travel planning. @Phillyenduro:
  • 1 2
 @Phillyenduro: well put yourself in their shoes. They live in poverty. A charity donated some worked bikes. Even if they don't last more than 6 months, these kids are over the moon for the time being and that's what matters. They will remember this for the rest of their lives and it will make them know that there are people in the world that care about them.
  • 1 0
 Most people in third world countries are actually pretty handy when it comes to any sort of matinence. In western countries we have the luxury of having trained professionals to fix everything, but the average person has lost the ability to fix even the most basic mechanical problems. When you have only yourself and whatever random spare parts are at hand, you have to teach yourself to fix any problem. I've seen this first hand in the countries I've been to. Also bikes can take a HECK TON of abuse, way more than we give them credit for.
  • 1 0
 @NotDeadYetMTB: you are absolutely right. My father in law is from a 3rd world country. He's the smartest guy I know when it comes to fixing things/repairs. He became a mechanic and has own business. As you said, he didn't have the luxury of paying trained professionals so he grew up doing everything himself.
  • 2 0
 @ski-or-die: You're 100% right. We're going to follow up on this project and these bikes and most importantly the kids that will be using them. The plan is to make this investment last and have an impact!
  • 1 0
 @BigMountain: great to hear.
  • 8 2
 This is just rad. The other comments about lack of sustainability of the fleet as well alluding to "white savior" complex make a lot of assumptions. Judge not.
  • 6 1
 Not really. I honestly do believe that this was a fantastic gesture. I have spent a looonng time in Botswana and when the rains come, it is practically impassable in some of these rural areas. It would be good to see the the support for ongoing maintenance is there as parts, etc. for anything in Botswana is damned expensive and how are they supposed to maintain these bikes if they cannot afford the parts.

So, speaking from experience and not a "white saviour" complex. Just the reality and facts of the situation. As I said, great gesture and a true testament that there are people that care for those that are not given such a great opoortunity. I'd just like to know that they have the ongoing support to appreciate and enjoy these bikes for years to come.
  • 4 0
 Good read. These kids are stoked!
  • 2 0
 Love it! Everyone deserves a bike in their lives.
  • 2 1
 wonder how the bikes will look like in 6 months....

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