World Bicycle Relief made its first distribution of 959 bicycles to nutrition volunteers in 18 areas of Chipata and Lundazi districts in Easter Province, Zambia. The majority of bicycles were distributed to women nutrition volunteers. These volunteers use them to commute to and from care group meetings, household visits, trips to health facilities, and other Mawa events. Beyond these duties, the bicycles also support nutrition volunteers in their regular daily activities such as transporting children to school or to clinics as well as selling crops in more distant markets.
Mawa: A food security project, strives to improve the quality of food grown at home so mothers and other caregivers can ensure good health and nutrition for their children – especially those under two. World Bicycle Relief, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services, provided bicycles to women nutrition volunteers in rural Zambia to help them reach the goals of this program.
The motivation that the bicycles have provided nutrition volunteers to do their work is evident in the number of household visits conducted before and after receiving the bicycles. Upon receiving bicycles, Mawa nutrition volunteers completed 255 more household visits compared to the month prior to receiving bicycles. In addition, participation in the monthly care group meetings in May was 100%. Reaching such high numbers, even during the harvest season when many people are busy in their fields, is very challenging, but the bicycles allowed volunteers to find their neighbors even if they were staying near their fields.
The bicycles prove to be life-changing tools and time savers for nutrition volunteers like Martha Zulu, who is in the Kalungwizi Care Group of the Shamombo Camp in Chipata, Zambia. Martha lives in Kasinje village with three young children: Jesse, Matipasa and Benard. Her daily activities include household chores such as sweeping her house, cooking meals, bathing her children, and washing clothes. In addition to her work as a nutrition volunteer, she is also a farmer, spending a lot of time in her garden and field.
As a volunteer, Martha attends monthly Care Group meetings to learn about improving nutrition in households, specifically for children. Currently, she is learning about complementary feeding for children who are six months to two years old. This program encourages families to plant a variety of nutritious foods in their gardens. After the monthly meetings, she visits ten households to teach these skills. These households live very far from each other, so it has been very difficult for Martha to teach and monitor the progress of her households.
“It has become my best resource in life and really helps me, my children, and my job as a nutrition volunteer -Martha Zulu, Nutrition Volunteer in Chipata, Zambia, says of her Buffalo Bicycle
Since receiving the bicycle from WBR, Martha is now able to visit her households daily and assist them in adopting the new practices that she teaches. The bicycle has made her life and work easier. In addition to Mawa activities, she is able to bicycle to the clinic if her children or neighbor gets sick as well as use it to transport crops to markets. Her children also use the bicycle to travel to school every day.
“This is my first bicycle that I have ever owned!” says Martha. “It has become my best resource in life and really helps me, my children and my job as a nutrition volunteer.”