Five days a week, Beene rides her bike 8 kilometers (5 miles) each way to school–a distance she was previously walking. Beene, a 16-year old girl in grade six at Chikanda Basic School in Kalomo District, Central Zambia, used to suffer significant pain in her legs due to the long distances she walked each day. Now, she proudly announces that, due to her new bicycle, her legs “pain no more”.
Beene received her World Bicycle Relief bike in May 2011. For the first time in her life, Beene is able to attend school five days a week. Previously, she could only manage the walk 2-3 times per week, often having to stay home because her legs hurt too badly to make the trip. Now, in addition to outstanding attendance, Beene is able to participate in extra-curricular programs such as inter-school athletics, an activity that she previously had neither time nor energy for.
Thanks to her new bike, not only can Beene attend school every day of the week, but she can complete her homework, as well as assist with her nieces and nephews and other household chores. Beene is grateful that having her bike allows her to be more punctual and attentive both at school and at home.
Mr. Chitembwa, Beene’s teacher at Chikanda Basic School asserts that Beene is now active in class and able to supervise other students. She has greater energy and concentration now that she is able to attend school daily and is less exhausted from walking. Beene’s favorite subjects are Social Development Studies and Mathematics. She dreams of being a nurse some day because she wants people to be healthy; a dream that her family wholeheartedly supports.
The leader of Beenes village, Headman Kabumbwe, considers Beene an example of World Bicycle Relief helping people in his village. He is very grateful for the support that has been rendered to children like Beene.
Beene resides with her older sister Monde, along with Monde’s husband and their six children. Beene and Monde’s parents are aging and not able to take care of Beene. So when Monde’s twins were born in 2006, Beene went to live with her sister to help take care of her new nieces and nephews. Monde is proud of her sister, stating “Since I am not educated, I want my young sister Beene to be educated so that she can help our family, community, and country.”
On non-school days, Beene’s duties at home include cooking, bathing the children, sweeping, and fetching water from a well approximately two kilometers from her home. She also works in the family garden where she grows bananas and vegetables.
Beene’s bike also has a significant impact on her entire family. Her sister and brother-in-law often use the bicycle for transport to surrounding villages to sell fish, often trading it for maize–a staple food in the region. Monde noted that she also uses the bicycle to take her small children to the Chilala Rural Health Centre–13 kilometers (8 miles) away from the village. The bicycle makes it possible for Beene’s young nieces and nephews to get the medical assistance they need in a timely fashion.
Beene says, “I love the donors for this bicycle because they have loved me before.” When asked to explain what she meant by a donor loving “before”, she explained how grateful she is that someone would provide her with a bicycle without knowing her in person – “Only someone who loves you can give you such a gift before you have even met.”