By World Bicycle Relief Program Manager, Lameck Kasanga
Her dream is to continue her education. She is 13 years old and attending grade six at Chikanda Basic School in Mumbwa District, Central Zambia. Priscah is the first born in a family of six children. In order for Priscah to access education, she covers a distance of eight kilometers (five miles) one way from her home to school. Before receiving her bicycle, Priscah would wake at 5:00 a.m. to walk to school in time for class at 7:00 a.m. She could not attend to chores at home in the morning because of the distance ahead of her. Priscah often ran to school in efforts to be punctual but the distance was challenging and she frequently reported to school late. The journey was too much for the young girl, "I used to be tired, doze off and lacked concentration in class," she said. The school would punish her and other students for reporting late by making them serve chores while the class was in session. Her teacher could not afford to wait for her and would continue with the class schedule. This would make the 13-year-old girl panic constantly and she remained behind in her school work. During the end-of-term class tests, Priscah usually would place between the 9th and 13th position in a class of about 50 pupils.
Priscah has identified herself as lucky because she was selected by her community's Bicycle Supervisory Committee to receive a World Bicycle Relief bicycle in July 2010 as part of World Bicycle Relief's Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP). After receiving a bicycle, Priscah reported that she wakes up at 6:00 a.m., has time to attend to her household chores, eat and leave for school. After school, with the help of her bicycle, she fetches water, washes the dishes and studies. Her father testified that, "After receiving a bicycle, her performance now has improved since when she received the bicycle. I do check her school work. Her books are encouraging to see and just the recent end-of-term exam, Priscah passed number three as a class position."
Priscah's bicycle benefits her family and community as well
On the same bicycle, Priscah carries her younger brother, Prince, on the carrier. Prince is 11 years old and attending grade 5 at the same school. Prince confirmed that his elder sister helps him with transport to school and that sometimes he cycles Priscah on the same bicycle. Priscah also attends Sunday school with her bicycle. She says, "I go to church because I want God to bless me more like he has done with a bicycle".
When asked what she would say to the sponsor who funded the bicycle, she was quiet for a minute. Then with tears rolling down her cheeks, she said, "Thank you for giving me a bicycle." The girl had no further words to describe her joyous, grateful emotions towards World Bicycle Relief and their partners.
In addition, Priscah's father gratefully advocated for BEEP. He states that when Priscah was not using her bicycle to attend school, other family members used her bicycle to access healthcare, assist in community volunteer services and improve their livelihood. Using the bicycle, her father transported his youngest son, Cryton, to a clinic 15 kilometers away (approximately nine miles) where he was treated for malaria.
Priscah's father also used the bicycle to transport his donated water pump to assist in the efforts of building an additional school block at Chikanda Basic School. He farms tomatoes and maize. Currently in the Mumbwa District, there is an overflow of tomatoes on the market, making it difficult to sell his produce for a decent price. If not sold in time, tomatoes quickly go to waste in non-refrigerated transport. Using Prsicah's bicycle, her father managed to find a market 20 kilometers (approximately 12 miles) away from his home. "Thanks to the bicycle, I've managed to reach different places and finally found a market and sold my tomatoes. And have 4.5 million kwacha ($960 USD)," he says.
With the same income he raised from the tomato business, Priscah's father has built the structure where he intends to sell groceries. He says that this will be a big business and he will be able to support his family and meet all educational needs of his children. He still has some capital so he can order some commodities for the shop to sell.