Sunday, April 29, 2007

First Distribution

Yesterday the coffee bike program had its first bike distribution in the Karaba cooperative. I brought 47 bicycles to the coop, and unfortunately due to an earlier rain in the day only half the people showed up to receive the bikes. The ones who did receive them were briefed on the contract, paid the down payment and became oriented to the bikes. The farmers surround the bikes and were told via my interpreter, Douglas and Isabella, the new aspects of the bike. The farmers jumped on and began grinding the gears up hills, slamming on the brakes and locking up the wheels. Nothing got hurt, both the farmers and the bikes.

They were very excited accepting them and riding them as they realized the difference of the bicycles that they were used to and the new ones they were riding. For me, it was a great experience and I saw that all this was actually falling into place. I, however, was so tired at that point from building the bikes the week prior and organizing the distribution to really appreciate it, or show excitement for it at the distribution. But after driving home in the latter hours of the day leaving 25 farmers with these bikes behind made me have a sense of achievement.

We are also going to keep distributing this week and hopefully get about 200 bikes.

The top picture is some farmers posing with their new bikes. The second picture is a wooden bike juxtaposed to the coffee bike, both the old and the new way of transporting goods.

Thanks for your comments and encouragement throughout this time!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bike Building Picutres

I took these this morning. We are at about 100 bikes.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Building the 500

The bikes are here and have been offloaded in a warehouse that we are renting in Butare. 20 mechanics showed up the first day of building, and now all the 23 have made it. We are entering into our 3rd day of building at the moment, and we are aiming for 40 to be built today. Remember on my latest posting when i mentioned how we were going to build hundreds of bikes a day when they arrive? - well lets just say i was shooting high. The total over the last two days is about 65.

The mechanics are all working well. Chris, Joe and I are running around checking bikes and answering questions. We are jumping in there with them, working at the same lever with the mechanics, there is friendships building between us, along with laughing usually stemming from us trying to pronounce the local language.

Tomorrow I will distribute the bicycles built in the past three days to the Karaba cooperative. I hope that we will have about 100.

Sorry for the lack of pictures and detail. We are working alot these days and usually have our hands jammed into the parts of the bicycle, not smacking the keys of our computers. So, I will plan on taking some pictures today and tomorrow and throwing them on the blog.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Scallywags Arrives

Joey & Chris came in last Sunday. They are from Scallywags bicycle cooperative in Minneapolis, MN. They have come to help with mechanic training in the cooperatives and to help with the building of the 1,000 bicycles coming into the country currently. The bikes have been imprisoned in the customs since the 2nd of April, and we will have them emancipated in a few days (fingers crossed). 500 are in customs, and 500 are going to arrive in Rwanda in the next few days.

Anyways, Joey & Chris rested up for an afternoon and the next day they came with me out to Nyakizu yesterday, a cooperative receiving 100 bicycles. We trained 5 mechanics from the cooperative, each coming from a different sector and one that works at the washing station. We hope that this will help those with the coffee bike over the wider area. I went into a meeting with the President, Vice President and the secretary of the cooperative and Joey & Chris went strait into guiding the mechanics workshop. They did great in explaining the way in which to adjust the brakes, the derailleur, the bottom bracket, the headset and many other aspects of the bicycle. They went about teaching in a very patient and encouraging way. They really believe in this program, in the value of the bicycle to change lives, and they have a desire to teach, to encourage and motivate bicycle culture in general. It is great having them here.

We are now waiting for the bikes to come out of customs, and when they arrive it will get pretty crazy. We will be building hundreds of bikes a day while simultaneously distributing them in cooperatives. I will keep this updated as well as I can during this time.

Talk to you later.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Quick Update

Hey folks. Sorry it has been a while since my last post. I have been pretty busy lately and have not had the time, or really the idea of throwing something up on the blog due to my mind being on other matters. But today I want to tell all that the bicycles are going through customs at the moment here in Kigali. They should be out in about a week.

Within the past couple months I have been busy still prepping the ground of the coffee bikes. The past week and a half I have been training two groups of mechanics from the Karaba and Maraba cooperatives to build the bikes when they come into town. They have been good to work with overall, of course there have been cultural challenges along the way, but I have to say that I have a crew of bright, hard working, and cool individuals. They have been great to work with. The picture above is the Maraba group working on dissasembling a bike and putting it back together. I hope that out of these groups will come those that will man the bike shops that are going up at the processing/washing stations. The sustainability of the program lies in these people, and I hope that I and others coming over here will further educate them in these bicycles.

I am working on making metal racks for these bicycles at the moment as well. I am hiring a local metal shop to crank out 1,000 racks to fix to the top of the bicycle. The metal shops in this country are crazy. Their welders are homemade, made out of copper coils with some wires stringing from them, to make up the welding gun and the ground. They weld without eye protection most of the time, and when they do have eye protection they use normal sun glasses. Then there are the grinders in the metal shops, with red hot sparks blowing in whichever direction, no eye or ear protection. I tell ya, they are nutz.

Anyways, there are other things as well like making educational material for working on the bicycles when the farmers receive them. All in their local language, Kinyerwanda. I also have a list of Kinyerwanda saying of bike parts and actions for some of us foreigners to use while working alongside these Rwandans. I will list some below.

Well, I hope to throw up some more exciting posts in the near future when these bicycles are distributed in the coops.

Thanks for reading. -Jay

Kinyerwanda Bike Parts and Actions. I know, this is very aplicable material.

Bicycle – singular: igare (ee-gare-eh)
Plural: amagare (ah-mah-gare-eh)

Wheel – Ipine (ee-peen-ney)
Tire – Ipine / Umupira (ooh-mooh-peer-rah)
Handlebars – Amahembe (ah-mah-hem-bey)
Frame – Kadre (cod-rey)
Crank Arm – Manuveri (man-oo-ver-ee)
Pedal – Ikirenge (ee-kee-rein-gey)

Tighten – Funga (foon-gah)
Tighten a lot/hard – Funda Chaney (foon-gah cha-ney)
Tighten this Bolt – Funga iri bulo (foon-gah ee-ree boo-lo)

Loosen – Fungura (foon-goo-rah)
Loosen this bolt – Fungura iri bulo (foon-goo-rah ee-ree boo-lo)