Kids ride high on free bikes
The man behind a campaign to reduce the number of bikes stolen in central Wellington has taken on a new project – providing bikes to in-need children in developing countries.
Davide Conti, a doctor at Wellington Hospital, has just returned from Guatemala where he was distributing bikes through the Wheels 4 Life charity, after stumbling upon the charity online.
‘‘I contacted the founder [Hans Rey] who is quite a famous mountain biker from Germany, and went from there.’’
Rey founded Wheels 4 Life more than a decade ago with the aim of providing bicycles to people in third-world countries in need of transportation.
Inspired by the charity’s mission, Conti spent six-months fundraising in Wellington, collecting money at mountain biking events as well as crowdfunding online.
‘‘The mountain biking community here was really great and supportive and I was able to raise about $2000 – enough to buy 10 bikes.
‘‘We were lucky that a local bike shop in Guatemala, Cycleworks, kindly agreed to give us the bikes for the distribution price.’’
Conti’s contribution combined with additional money raised by the charity allowed for a total of 50 bikes to be given out to children aged between 6 and 14-years-old.
The volunteer-run school is in the Antigua area in southern Guatemala with the majority of its teachers from overseas.
‘‘They cater to kids whose families are too poor to send them to school so they get all their books and all that for free,’’ Conti said.
‘‘The problem is that a lot of the kids live on farms which are quite far from the school and there are not many transport options to get them there so that’s where the bicycles come in.’’
It was that fact that made the charity a perfect fit for Conti with his passion for cycling often taking him all around the world.
‘‘You always want to help the local community but it’s hard just showing up there and not knowing what you can do to help.
‘‘Mountain biking is not just about people cycling around the city, we’re a nice community trying to help internationally and this project allows us to do that.’’
Conti planned to repeat the fundraising process again next year, likely with another school in need.
‘‘You see how happy they are to have some random show up from New Zealand with 50 bikes. It was just beautiful.’’
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