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Bee Bikes Malawi: A Galway-dweller’s story By Mandy Jo Shelton The founder of the Galway Tour Company has organized a charity bicycle event in the Chilomoni township of Malawi, Africa. In his new role as Marketing Director of the Beehive Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, former Galwegian Declan Somers hopes to raise the profile of the township through the first Chilomoni Bike Chase on March 16. For the past four months, Mr Somers has been living in the Chilomoni Township, located on the outskirts of Blantyre, Malawi's second largest city. The Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise is a not for profit organisation that seeks to create employment opportunities in Chilomoni. Speaking via Skype on the eve of a used computer sale at the Beehive, Mr Som-
ers, from County Carlow, said he grew up visiting Salthill during holidays. After spending seven years working in Japan, he purchased a cottage in Connemara, with ambitions toward becoming "a hermit poet." In 2007, he sold the cottage and bought two tour buses, starting the Galway Tour Company. His fluency in Japanese helped grow the tour business into a popular choice for day trips to Connemara and the Cliffs of Moher, among other locations. After five years as a businessman in Galway, Mr Somers relocated to Malawi to devote his energies to social entrepreneurship. Residents in Chilomoni grow maize and engage in tin-smithing and metalworking, but "most of the businesses weren't doing well because of a lack of business acumen," Mr Somers said.
The unemployment rate in the region is approximated at 85%, although the lack of welfare benefits means the numbers of unemployed are not officially recorded. The Beehive and its subsidiaries seek to address the issue of unemployment in a growing region. "Our goal is to empower the community by creating jobs," Mr Somers said. The BeeBikes bike shop is one of the Beehive enterprises in Chilomoni. BeeBikes refurbishes and sells donated bicycles, which are an inexpensive and sustainable mode of transport in an area where car ownership is rare. The shop sells bikes donated from many sources, but in 2008, Royal Mail in the UK made a noteworthy contribution of 20,000 retired postal carrier bikes, which feature sturdy frames, Ital-
ian leather saddles and capacious front baskets. The BeeBikes bike shop supports a staff of 11, with all surplus proceeds from bike sales going to the Mother Theresa Children's Centre, another of the Beehive enterprises, which provides day-care for local children. The children, aged 0-6, receive three meals per day, a bilingual education, and the opportunity to "learn through play," Mr Somers said. Caregivers from the Mother Theresa Children's Centre visit families throughout the community and nominate children for places in the childcare centre. A committee of stakeholders, including the chief of Chilomoni, make the final decision as to which children receive a place in the childcare centre.
"We're basically growing the next generation of leaders," Mr Somers said. The aim of the Chilomoni Bike Chase is to fund additional childcare places so more children will have to opportunity to attend the Mother Theresa Children's Centre. The Chilomoni Bike Chase is billed as Malawi's first township bike event, with teams of four competing in a 4-kilometer relay through Chilomoni. He hopes the Chilomoni Bike Chase will become an annual event that raises the profile of the region. Mr Somers said he already had the idea for the Chilomoni Bike Chase when he arrived in Malawi, though it took a commitment from a friend, who brought Paddy Power on board as a sponsor, to convince him it would really happen. The sponsors will
own the bikes used by the team, and ideally will donate them to local charities within the community after the race. Sponsorship for a fleet of original Royal Mail bikes costs €540. However, for €750, corporate sponsors can have the bikes repainted and branded with their own colours and logos. Mr Somers hopes that the branded bikes and the event itself will grow the Bee Bikes name. "We're building the business model for Bee Bikes in the future," he said. In addition to corporate sponsorship, Bee Bikes accepts donations in Malawian Kwacha, US Dollars, Euros and UK Pounds to curtail administration fees. For more information, check out the Facebook page, Bee Bikes Malawi, or email infor@beehivemalawi. com.
My J1 Experience By Emer Hurley I’m not going to lie: one of my favorite things about college has got to be the incredibly long summer holidays. How can you make the most of those months off? The answer is simple – go on a J1. In my first year I learned of this opportunity and never looked back. I started thinking about my J1 in November but it didn’t transpire into something more real until USIT, the top J1 travel and work company, visited campus in January. USIT took all the effort out of everything. They made sure my visa was processed, that I received the best price on flights, and that my insurance covered everything, including exam failure. With USIT taking care of the logistics, that left me time to plan the more exciting stuff. After talking to friends and relatives, a friend and I decided to go to San Francisco. In order to be able to live in America for the summer we needed a source of income. This is where USIT’s Job Database came in handy. Thanks to their list of employers and job vacancies, my friend and I secured waitressing and bartending
jobs. Next step was to find ourselves accommodation. Google searches commenced and we decided to live in a Berkley fraternity house just outside of the city. On 27 May I said my farewells, jetted off from Dublin international airport, and my adventures began. Over the next three months we lived the dream. I loved the constant buzz of the frat house and made loads of lifelong friends from all over the world. While this was an ideal option for us, some J1ers may prefer to look into other options, such as short-term rentals. Living in any of the major cities may be pricey, so don’t forget to check out the suburbs. My serving job was fun and fast-paced, and the Irish charm coupled with Americans’ generous tipping habits funded my nights out, tourist activities and living expenses quite well. On your J1 you can find yourself any type of seasonal employment from lifeguarding, working in SeaWorld, selling sunbeds & beach umbrellas, bartending at a concert venue, or working in Hollister to name a few. Be sure to prepare a résumé before you apply for jobs, which is a shorter version of
the CV. USIT can help you tailor your CV into a résumé if you need any help with this. Be sure to explore all your summer home has to offer. For us, some of the major attractions we enjoyed in San Francisco were Alcatraz prison, the Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square, Chinatown and of course, the outlet malls for some serious shopping. While we may not have been the legal age (21), but we certainly didn’t let that stop us from embracing the amazing nightlife that San Francisco had to offer. After three months, our carefree time in San Francisco came to an end, but our J1 experience didn’t end there. We had decided to use the free stopover offered by USIT to visit the Big Apple and finish our summer of a lifetime. We spent an incredible four nights in New York City before returning home to Ireland. To me, going on a J1 is a rite of passage for all students, and in my experience, USIT makes this extremely easy to happen. To all of you contemplating or planning your J1 this year, best of luck, see as much as you can, and enjoy. I hope you have as fantastic a time as I did.
Jobs Bulletin Finding a job can be difficult, especially if you’re not looking in the right place. But NUI Galway’s Career Development Centre brings you a fortnightly jobs bulletin to assist you in your search. For more information on duties and requirements for these job opportunities, go to www.nuigalway.ie/careers.
1. Permanent, full-time IT help desk assistant wanted for Adecco Ireland in Galway. 6 months to 2 years’ experience required. Apply to firstname.lastname@example.org by 10 March 2013. 2. Full-time safety and health, environmental quality officer wanted for Ward & Burke Construction Ltd. Apply to email@example.com by 6 March 2013. 3. Graduates wanted for company secretarial practice with Pearce Trust in Dublin. Apply to firstname.lastname@example.org by 10 March 2013. 4. Analytics Graduates wanted for VistaPrint in Barcelona, Spain. Apply at http://goo.gl/q2eh8 by 28 February 2013. 5. Internship available with Google in Dublin and throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa. Apply at http://goo. gl/GpXL7 by 15 March 2013. 6. Junior regulatory advisor with excellent Chinese and English wanted for permanent wotk with Talent Search People in Spain. Apply to tdecman@talentsearchpeople. com by 1 March 2013. 7. NPI Engineer wanted for permanent work with Adecco Ireland in Galway. 2 years’ relevant experience required. Apply to email@example.com by 8 March 2013. 8. Systems Engineer wanted for contract and graduate job programme at Eire Systems in Jappan. Apply to recruit@ eiresystems.com by 14 March 2013.