Maximo is a certified motorcycle mechanic with a strong reputation in the Uraba region of Colombia, South America. He and his wife closed their shop in town. They moved their family to a rural location, where they have much less overhead and more freedom to work on their own terms.
Deeply invested in his new community, Maximo stepped up as a leader and joined the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP) Supervisory Committee at his daughter Luisa’s school. Maximo thinks the Buffalo Bicycle is beautiful. He also regards the goal to provide students with access to education as very important. He believes in the BEEP model, which holds students accountable for attendance in order to keep their bicycles. It’s useful in helping the children keep up their end of the deal. He says the rules are very important.
In partnership with Postobon (Colombia’s leading beverage company), 680 bicycles were initially distributed to rural students. With a strong emphasis on measuring and evaluating the outcomes of education for the learners over time, Maximo will be a huge asset as World Bicycle Relief and Postobon collaborate to gather data and grow the program.
The route that children travel to school in this area is lined with banana plantations as far as the eye can see. Generally, children ride a free bus to school that seats about 40 passengers. However, during harvest seasons (4-5 times a year), there’s an influx of field hands who travel this same route each day and rely on the bus. If the bus driver looks the other way, the passenger count can easily reach 100.
Luisa Ramos attends school from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Yet during harvest periods, she has to wait until 9:30 p.m. to board the very crowded, very late bus for her ride home.
Luisa thinks the bicycle is a much safer option. Though, in the beginning, her friends were not in agreement. In fact, they initially backed out of the bicycle program at their school due to uncertainty. While she humbly claims no leadership, her peers listened to Luisa when she convinced them as well as the school’s headmaster to accept the program and stay in school. Why is Luisa so committed to education?
Like many young women can do, Luisa fell in love – with a soldier. They got married. Many girls leave school once they marry, but not Luisa. She knew her father believed in her.
Maximo told his daughter of his dream for her to go to university and finish her studies. When he learned of Luisa’s marriage, the clever man that he is, Maximo gave his approval on one condition: she would continue her commitment to school. Luisa’s husband moved into their home, and Luisa is in the process of selecting a path in graphic design, nursing or medicine.
She says, “I can count on my father for his support in whatever I choose.”
To fathers around the world like Maximo, thank you for being leaders in your community. More importantly, thank you for believing in daughters and The Power of Bicycles.