THE STORY BEHIND bikes without borders
Our lives are shaped by defining moments - short encounters that can instantly change the path we are walking. I had one of these moments 12 years ago while in the remote community of Peñas Blancas, in the northern jungles of Nicaragua. On our 3rd day in the village, we visited a local school. It was a Saturday and the school was not open, but this small community was proud of the brick and mud, one-room schoolhouse and they wanted us to see it.
The little girl that I met there changed my life forever. I would guess she was no more than 10 years old, in the village for the day collecting supplies to bring back to her family home. She too was excited to share with me the school we proudly attended.
When I asked her where her family lived and how long it took here to get to school each day she turned and pointed to the hills that lay far beyond the village.
Since that day, what seems a lifetime ago, I have visited many communities like Peñas Blancas. What I know now , is that this little girl's story is not unique. Thousands of children spend hours a day walking to and from school, determined to get an education and better their lives.
And it's not just children, and it's not just school. Around the world many people are not afforded access to the everyday services that you and I take for granted. A bike can reduce the time required to get to school, ensuring that they never have to miss a day to complete household chores, but it can also transport a patient to a hospital in time to save a life, or a social worker to a village to educate the community on proper sanitation and hand hygiene.
We knew there was something we could do and we set out to do it. Much hard work has taken place at Bikes Without Borders over the last 12 years but we are just getting started. Remembering that little girl in Peñas Blancas and her steadfast determination pushes us everyday to work to improve the lives of marginalized individuals and communities around the world - with the humble bicycle in hand.
Mike Brcic, Board Chair
WHAT we do
Bikes Without Borders is a federally-registered charity, using bikes and bike-related solutions as tools for development in marginalized communities around the world. We believe in the bicycle as a means of increasing access to vital health services, economic opportunity, educational empowerment and independence.
We serve marginalized individuals and communities where bikes and bike-related solutions can have a significant, positive impact on community development by providing bicycles, repair and maintenance training and program support to residents through partnerships with local community and social welfare organizations.
WHY we do it
We have seen the impact that a bicycle can have on one life and know the collective impact within communities can be staggering. We believe it is possible to live in a world where we take care of one another and ensure that those who are facing life's valleys are supported by those experiencing its peaks. We know that there are ways of doing this that cost those who give very little and mean the world to those who receive. We want to provide one way by which that exchange can happen.
A bicycle can get a child to school, a mother to a clean drinking well, someone sick to a new clinic in half the time; a bicycle can help a healthcare worker deliver 10 times the vaccines, and a volunteer reach the people they are trying to help. We like to think of our work at BWB as one small piece of a complex system that changes lives for the better.
WHO We are
Tanya Smith, Executive Director
Kelsey Abbott, Director of Operations
Maggie Anderson, The Great Bike Recycle Program Manager and Lead Mechanic
Mike Brcic, Chair
David Nazzicone, Treasurer
our PARTNERS & Friends
Bikes Without Borders partners with CultureLink's Bike Host program to provide bikes to newly settled participants. The program connects new immigrants settling in the Toronto area with established community members able to share their love of cycling and fosters community connectedness as participants explore their new city by bike. For more information or to register as a mentor or participant visit CultureLink's Bike Host page.
Our amazing friends as Cyclepath Oakville are collecting used bikes in support of our Great Bike Recycle. When you upgrade to a new bike, the team at Cyclepath Oakville will make sure the old one goes to good use! Send us an email at info@bikeswithoutborders if your organization is interested in becoming a bike drop-off location.