Aaron was ready to quit school.
His family could no longer afford the slums of Lusaka, Zambia, and he now walked 2 hours each way to class. With no time to spare, Aaron couldn’t earn money for his family.
Then, he received the gift of a World Bicycle Relief Buffalo Bicycle, and his whole world changed.
Today, 19-year-old Aaron is studying at Wheeler High School in North Stonington, CT, and hopes to one day become a surgeon.
That’s the Power of Bicycles – and the significance of your support in Zambia.
World Bicycle Relief began operations in Zambia in 2007 and has since delivered more than 150,000 bicycles into various programs. About 60% of Zambians live in rural communities and have no reliable transportation option. Without transportation, essentials such as education become a difficult task.
Chikumbuso is an amazing grassroots project and community that serves as a beacon of hope. The project supports vulnerable women and children in the Ng’ombe Township of Lusaka, Zambia.
It formed in 2005 when Linda Wilkinson sought a way to help widows who had lost everything due to HIV/AIDS. To make money, the women began crocheting handbags out of recycled plastic bags.
The community soon grew to include a school to provide an education for vulnerable children at no cost. The school has more than 300 students in grades 1-6, while older students are sponsored to secondary schools through scholarship programs.
Since 2009, Chikumbuso and World Bicycle Relief have worked together to mobilize these students. Chikumbuso purchases Buffalo Bicycles for their older students who may have to travel farther to secondary schools. WBR President Dave Neiswander also serves on Chikumbuso’s board. Learn more about Chikumbuso.
Aaron started attending the Chikumbuso school when he was 10 and living in a nearby slum. He quickly realized the importance of education – and the meal Chikumbuso provided each day.
But after his family was forced to move out of the slums in grade 5 into a crude home with no real roof and a two-hour walk from school, dropping out became a real possibility. Just before reaching his breaking point, Aaron was gifted a Buffalo Bicycle.
Since then, Aaron hasn’t looked back.
Sabrina Buehler, a Chikumbuso Board Member and long-time supporter of both Chikumbuso and World Bicycle Relief, met Aaron at a book club a year after that momentous occasion. She quickly saw something special in him.
“If Aaron didn’t have that bicycle,” Sabrina says, “I would never have met him at book club.”
After supporting Aaron from afar for several years, Sabrina and Wheeler High School in February invited him and his friend, Teddy, to study in Connecticut.
Teddy, unlike Aaron, grew up in a village near the border of Angola. When he started at Chikumbuso at age 9, he didn’t even speak the local language. Teddy woke before 5:30 a.m. to make the two-hour trek to school. But the opportunity for an education and a daily meal pushed Teddy to work hard.
Today, both Teddy and Aaron continue to work hard. Classes at Wheeler such as biology, physics, English and chemistry didn’t keep them from making the honor roll. During the school year, they passed up the opportunity to watch movies, Sabrina says, and instead spent evenings and weekends studying.
And after Teddy’s arrival in the U.S., a donor learned of his long walk to school and offered to buy him a Buffalo Bicycle of his own. His dream to become a lawyer is now within his grasp.
When Aaron and Teddy asked why they, out of all the children at Chikumbuso, were lucky enough to be given this opportunity, Sabrina says the answer was easy. In addition to being smart, hard working and having great personalities, one story they told illustrated their characters.
In grade 4, Teddy, Aaron and their friends vowed that, one day, when they were successful, they would build another orphan school to give back to Chikumbuso and their community for all the support over the years.
“Because of the bicycles, we are here studying at Wheeler School and hoping to accomplish my goal, which I will, of becoming a doctor. And that’s the power of the bicycle,” Aaron says.