Just a few layovers, brief cramped plane naps, and minor delays later – the Bike Zambia team arrived together for the first time in Lusaka yesterday afternoon. With barely a moment to rest, we piled into a bus to head to our first beneficiary visit, World Bicycle Relief (WBR), to see the factory and hear about the programs from country director, Dave Neiswander. Our visit was short in anticipation of a longer field visit the following afternoon.
Today’s activities started with a visit to Sishemo Education Trust, one of our other Lusaka-based beneficiaries. Along with a stop to see the Mizizi compound in the morning (the place where most students called home) we arrived at the school for a wonderful opening ceremony for Sishemo’s brand new kitchen. Bike Zambia 2012’s contribution to the school went to providing a modern kitchen facility for the schools growing population (now up to 480 from last year’s 300 students!). It was an honor to see the amazing growth and progress of the school, staff, and students, and we look forward to completing the kitchen by using this year’s funds to furnish it with appliances.
We left the school after a short soccer game, sad to say good-bye to the students, but excited to return to WBR for the remainder of our activities. The group got a chance to build their own Buffalo Bicycles – with the help of World Bicycle Relief mechanics, of course! Our afternoon the included a special visit to Chipapa Basic School, a 30-minute drive outside of Lusaka, to see the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program. We arrived to a beautiful ceremony of singing and dancing by the students, took a tour of the school, and heard first-hand just how much difference a bicycle makes to a girl in overcoming the hurdle of long distances when trying to get an education. We even had the opportunity to visit the home and talk with a family of a student who received a bicycle.
Needless to say, we had a very packed and exciting (yet very humbling) first full day in Zambia. We look forward to heading out on the road bright and early (6:30am to be exact!) tomorrow morning for our first day of riding.