Nelson Mandela influenced great change in South Africa that resonated around the world. He was a pioneer in ending white minority rule and fostering post-apartheid reconciliation in the early 1990s. In 1994, he became South Africa’s first democratically-elected president and its first black leader. Unlike his predecessors, Mandela stepped down at the conclusion of his term.
Before becoming president, Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. He was jailed for standing up to the human rights abuses committed by the apartheid government against black South Africans. When he was released from prison in 1990, Mandela addressed the crowds from Cape Town’s City Hall, saying:
“I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.”
As a sign of gratitude for his selflessness, many South Africans refer to Mandela as Madiba, the African name of his tribe. When Mandela was a child, it was customary for a South African student to be assigned an English name. In school, he came to be known as Nelson. Many South Africans still refer to Mandela as Madiba as a sign of respect and endearment, paying tribute to his African roots.
After his presidency, Mandela became a philanthropist with a special focus on education. Through the Nelson Mandela Foundation in 1999, he pursued noble work such as rural development, school construction, and combating HIV/AIDS.
Nelson Mandela’s legacy of humility and service lives on not only in South Africa, but also around the world.
At World Bicycle Relief, we believe that education is the gateway to a world of opportunity. We provide bicycles to students to help them travel to school because education enables people to overcome poverty and follow their dreams.
World Bicycle Relief’s philanthropic mission is to improve access to education in areas where it is a struggle to attain. Facing challenges such as long distances and unsafe passage, rural students who walk to school are often late to class if they even make it at all. Students with bicycles have fewer absences, more time in class, and more time to study. With access to education, students can become what they aspire to be. Education improves the life of the individual, but it also greatly benefits the entire community, building a better future for all.
At World Bicycle Relief, we always tell our supporters that the The Power of Bicycles isn’t enough to make our work possible. It really is the power of YOU. You have the power to make an impact! This includes our end-users in the field. From a fundraiser in the United States to a rural student who just received a bicycle, each individual can make a world of difference. Any act of kindness or justice, big or small, matters. At World Bicycle Relief, we strive to leave the world a better place for those around us and those that will be here after us.
Many of the communities we serve are made up of individuals who have to overcome great adversity everyday. At bicycle distribution ceremonies, Cofounder Leah Missbach Day often asks students what they want to be when they grow up. Sometimes, they don’t have answers. Returning to visit these students after a year of using the bicycle, she is met with enthusiasm and answers like doctor, lawyer, nurse, and teacher. With bicycles, students are able to see a better path ahead, work hard, and reach their dreams.
Internally at WBR, we are dedicated to continuous learning and improvement. We monitor and evaluate our programs so that we can constantly make them better. We see every obstacle as a learning opportunity and a chance to expand our commitment to creating access to resources.
We believe that every human life is of equal value. In the rural communities we serve, people are struggling to meet their most basic human needs like shelter, clothing, food, and water. As an organization, we are fighting poverty through simple, sustainable measures. We are not in the business of providing charity through bicycles. We are in the business of empowering people who are born with the odds stacked against them. With a bicycle, people have the tool they need to access the basics, which makes it possible to pursue a brighter future.
WBR strives to impact the lives of individuals by providing them a tool that allows them to drive their own positive change. Everyone has a purpose, and it’s important to find your path to help make this world a better place for all. If we only live for ourselves, we have not contributed to nor benefited from the people and community around us. Our supporters have a unique opportunity to drastically change the lives of others and leave a lasting legacy. With a bicycle, students, healthcare workers, and entrepreneurs in rural communities have the opportunity to change their world.