School administrators at Mahanga Secondary School in Kakamega, Kenya, report that since receiving the Buffalo Bicycles, student performance has improved and self-esteem, particularly among the girls, has increased.
Students who used to walk 5-8 kilometers (approximately 3-5 miles) each way to school save hours per day in travel time by bicycling instead. The bicycles have also raised the profile of Mahanga Secondary School in the community. Enock Keya, head teacher, said that Buffalo Bicycles have even increased school enrollment.
Before receiving the bicycles, girls who walked to school would often encounter boda boda riders, or motorcycle taxi drivers, who would offer free rides in exchange for sexual relations.
“Nowadays, I pass them by, riding my bicycle without paying attention to them,” said one bicycle recipient. “I’m independent and confident!”
A full 70% of bicycles were distributed to girls, since they are at the highest risk of dropping out of school due to distance, time constraints and pregnancy. Girls in Kakamega County are expected to complete household chores before leaving for school, and the pressure of balancing those responsibilities with schoolwork and long commutes can become unmanageable.
The remaining 30% of bicycles were distributed to boys, and school officials are using the program to encourage good citizenship and strong community among their male students. As boys bicycle to school, they are expected to offer rides to any girls they see walking in the same direction, providing a safe alternative to the boda boda riders.
Watch the news report in full and read translations of the Kiswahili interview excerpts below!
My name is Size 8 Reborn, and this is KTN News. I am the guest anchor on KTN today.
This program has really promoted Mahanga Secondary School. Many parents now want to enroll their students to my school. This has become a talk of the community, so when I walk around, everyone acknowledges that these are bikes for Mahanga Secondary School. The bicycles have increased school enrollment into my school.
I used to walk very long distances to school and I would meet the motorcycle riders on the way. The motorcycle riders would give me free rides, although on the condition that we have a relationship. He could bring me up to school. He used to tell me sweet things and I was attracted to him. He also used to give me some money.
Indeed, some of us motorcycle operators educate the students while others take advantage of them. In future, some of them get wives and they tell the children from that relationship that your father used to carry me on the bike.
On my way to school, I meet many men on the road, and especially boda boda riders (on motorbikes) who lure me into relationships. Nowadays I pass them by riding my bicycle without paying attention to them. I am independent and confident!