By Johannes Wolf
1st December 2013
Dear friends and supporters! Some time passed by until we’ve provided you with some news. We’re neither lazy nor nothing occurred to talk about. Now you’ll get an update about our latest activities. In October the film maker Kevin Westphal from Hamburg and me travelled through Southern Africa and put our idea of the documentary “Ombasikela” into action. Even the crowdfunding campaign wasn’t successful, we were and are still so passionate about this and decided to do it anyway. Our journey brought us from Cape Town (South Africa) to Lusaka (Zambia). Three countries, five projects and 5,000 kilometers later we’ve got a bunch of amazing pictures and filming material. We hope to be able to show the result at the beginning of next year. Soon after the first premier screenings the documentary shall be available on DVD and as a download to purchase. Let surprise yourself by inspiring stories about bicycles in Africa. News about our projects which we’ve visited and filmed on our trip will be available soon on our website (German only...yet). Over the last weeks and months we’ve collected many bicycles, so right now roughly 700 are stuffed into our warehouse in Oschatz. There is not too much space left and we want to ship our next container as soon as possible. A new project partner will be the Village Bicycle Project in Ghana (www.villagebicycleproject.org). Since 2000 they’ve imported 10,000s of bicycles and trained hundreds of mechanics. We will support this successful project with at least one container (shipping planned in January 2014). After visiting almost all collection points all over Germany and picked up the donated bicycles, we are now taking a little winter sleep. Currently we’re only receiving bikes in Oschatz, pickups are not possible in the winter. During the collection phase over the last months we were overwhelmed by the amount of bicycles donated (ca. 1,400) and have been pushed to our limits. We’ve discovered picking up and transport from collection points to our main warehouse uses a lot of our time and financial resources. As we are volunteers, it is very challenging to provide a year around service of collecting. In the future we will try to optimize the amount and location of bicycle collection throughout Germany. We also want to involve them in the transport to our main warehouse. Bicycle collections will be limited to several months in the year, coming at the same time every year. We’re receiving many emails of donors whom we have to refuse because a pickup would be too expensive and no collection point is close by. Some might also have been waiting a little longer until we were able to come and pickup. It’s challenging to find affordable transportation and time to drive through Germany for that. We’re enjoying this and put our heart into these activities. Though our work, school, or family might be more important and demand larger devotion. We highly appreciate your understanding. We would like to express our deep thanks for everyone who spread the word, collects bikes, donate money and time. With your commitment and voluntary work we are able to create and initiate projects and keep going. After three years of work some tasks and areas within our organization could have been identified. These we would like to hand over to new volunteers. As a young NGO we’re learning something new almost every day and are willing for changes and to optimize our work. If you want to be a part of that just give us a shout! Now this little news message turns into a serious year-end letter…
Year’s end is a good moment to stop within the daily trouble and look back. Fahrräder für Afrika e. V. has been collecting around 3,000 bicycles over the last three years, shipped ca. 2,500 of them to five different projects in South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia. Our partners provided mechanical and business trainings to more than 30 disadvantaged individuals like HIV positive, former sex workers, and disabled to give them a chance for a better life. 2,500 people more have now access to affordable transportation and can cycle daily to work, school, markets, health centers, or just for fun. This year we’ve shipped one container to BEN South Africa and one to Multisport Africa in Tsumeb, our second project in Namibia. More information about all our projects you can find on our website. With our activities we’re bringing the idea of easy and affordable mobility to countries, where long foot walks to school, work, markets, and hospitals are daily challenges for the majority. A bicycle can make a difference. For individuals it means a more self-determined life, for the whole country a push forward for social and economic development. This year we had 25 collection points all over Germany, where more than 100 volunteers collecting bikes, repairing, transport, spread the idea, and call for funds. Without this engagement we wouldn’t be able to go a step ahead, only with our enthusiasm. We all together can make a difference and contribute to empower people and give them a chance for a more self-determined life. In 2014 we want to continue talking about our vision, collecting bicycles and funds, develop new projects, and support already established bike workshops. In the beginning of the year we are going to ship at least one container to Ghana. More containers and projects will follow. Their destinations and potential African partners will be announced as soon as possible. We are welcoming hints to already established cooperation between German and African organizations, with which we could get connected and gain know-how and contacts. Our new collection season will start probably in April 2014, when there is hopefully more space in our warehouse again. This year it will be limited for several months, in which collecting points will be ready to receive bikes. This period will be repeated every year. The work of all volunteers will be much better able to be planned and transport coordination will be easier. Collection points will be better prepared for their tasks. Personally me as initiator and chairman I’m always thrilled about the people I’m meeting here in Europe and in Africa within my engagement. Despite all differences in language, religion, culture, society it’s amazing how we all can work together driven by the same idea. The past three years were intense for me and all the different people I met made my life richer, myself more tolerant and opened my eyes. It’s a gift and huge responsibility to be able to look beyond my own nose and, where necessary and possible, to help. My passion about bicycles power me for that. I also want to support and motivate others to get engaged and be aware of others people’s needs. It might be your ill neighbor, a family member to take care for or a fresh water project in a developing country. There are suitable opportunities for everyone, to take the responsibility as a citizen of a developed and well situated country. My surrounding, family, school, work, and friends make it easier for me to spend every free minute with Fahrräder für Afrika e. V. I’m looking forward to every successful year ahead of us, only possible with everyone’s personal effort. In the near future some changes in my personal surrounding will cause some changes. I’m about to finish school with writing my bachelors thesis. Afterwards it’s time to find a suitable job which is challenging and also give me space for my Engagement and passion. The most important event which has happened was the meeting with my girlfriend Izabela during an economic forum in Poland. This is a huge gift I got and very luckily I shift my priorities to her and our favor. She supports me lovely on
all my ways and gives me power also for the work at Fahrräder für Afrika e. V. It’s not easy to find the right balance between private life and engagement, but I’m very sure that it is possible. That’s why also 2014 is going to be a successful year full of good ideas and vigor. I would like to thank personally and in the name of Fahrräder für Afrika for the hard work done by all volunteers. I hope for your support also in the future and advocate by myself for the success of our work. We all can make a difference – one bike at a time! I wish you and your families a contemplative time, some moments of silence and nearness to your dearest ones. Best, Johannes Wolf Fahrräder für Afrika e. V.
Donations account: Dresdner Volksbank Raiffeisenbank eG beneficiary: Fahrräder für Afrika e. V. IBAN: DE 1785 0900 0031 3491 1017 BIC: GENODEF1DRS Thank you!