Tarves: re-cycling for Africa’s kids

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GENEROUS Tarves Primary pupils are set to take part in a Rotary campaign to bring bicycles to some of the world’s poorest people.

P6/7s at the school were given a talk by local Rotarian Martin Forster on Thursday, outlining the principles of the Joelrider scheme, which sends refurbished bikes to African countries to be used by schoolchildren.

As part of the scheme, Ellon Rotary have been collecting old bikes and donations in the local area, with more than two hundred bikes collected thus far for export. At the moment, the project focuses on The Gambia - a small nation in West Africa which, though comparatively stable by African standards, suffers from a poorly developed infrastructure. With just 40.1% of the population literate, one of the objectives of the Joelrider project is to let Gambian youngsters spend more time learning in school, and less time travelling to get there.

Martin Forster told the Times: “In a country with no infrastructure - like the Gambia - children need a quick, reliable form of transport to get them to school. Education is critical, and these bikes will help bring more children into education, by making it easier to travel to school.”

As part of the programme, pupils at the school will give talks to other classes about the project, seeking old bikes and donations to cover the costs of transporting them.

“Each bike costs around £10 to ship,” said Martin. “They’re refurbished by prisoners in the UK, before being shipped.”

Class teacher Susan Keith said that her class had reacted enthusiastically to the idea after Mr Forster’s talk.

“The children have all been very keen to get involved,” she said. “They’re set to give a presentation to the rest of the school on the topic.”

Young Rotary president Lewis Watson said that his group had already done some brainstorming on the topic of how they would raise awareness of the project.

“We’re considering sending out some leaflets, and maybe putting up posters so that people are aware of what’s going on,” he said.

The Tarves collection takes place on January 27 and 30 at the school during school hours - anyone with an old, serviceable bike is welcome to donate it.