About six weeks ago my friend David approached me with an opportunity to travel to Ghana and conduct some bicycle mechanics workshops. Dave is the International Programs Director at Bikes Not Bombs, and one of our sister organizations called Re-Cycle had contacted him to see if BNB could send someone to a worker-owned cooperative called Ability Bikes in Koforidua Ghana to conduct some advanced mechanics training. As a field worker for Bikes Not Bombs, Dave spent a lot of time in Ghana supporting Ability Bikes when they got started in 2008, and BNB has continued to support them through the last five years.
Ability Bikes receives containers of bicycles, whole-sales some parts to the open market, and refurbishes used bicycles for sale throughout the community. All of the worker-owners at AB are physically challenged, yet provide crucial mobility to their community through these bicycles. This process not only connects people with valuable resources but also challenges social stigma around physically challenged people and creates meaningful employment for 7 worker-owners.
Since Re-cycle had raised funds for the training, but had no field worker to send, the opportunity was presented to me. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. I’ll fly from Boston to Accra November 4th, and spend two weeks in Ghana training the mechanics at Ability Bikes on wheel building and internally geared hubs, as well as other basic mechanic skills. While I’m there I’ll also be documenting this amazing project through video and photos, and passing off some of those skills so that Ability Bikes can further document their own progress and ensure continued support.
This past Sunday Bikes Not Bombs loaded a container of 648 bikes and tons of spare parts in Dorchester, and I stopped by for a few hours to help and document. This container won’t be there in time for when I arrive, but I threw a quick animation together with some voice over of Dave talking about Ability Bikes. I’m super excited about going back to Africa already, and especially to be working on such an incredible project.