Reed Findlay ’18 cycled around the world through countries such as Mongolia, Iceland, Netherlands and Germany, witnessing firsthand the power of a single bike to change someone’s life. Inspired by its power to help those who do not have access to any other modes of access, Findlay decided to help fundraise for the charity, Bicycles for Humanity (B4H).
Each trip, he has received money from his sponsors for the number of miles he biked and has donated his earnings to B4H. The charity then pays for all shipping and packaging of the bikes that are donated to impoverished communities around the world.
“When I’m on these trips, it’s such a different life than here, back home, because all you have to worry about is yourself and the bike. You just get up in the morning knowing that all you have to conquer is 10 hours of being on a bike and to just keep going. I love that feeling, the biking lifestyle,” said Findlay.
Findlay’s older brother first founded the Boston Chapter of the organization in 2012 upon his return from a bike trip across the southern Africa.
“A bicycle solves the problem of mobility in developing countries and helps empower impoverished people to change their life. With the aid of a bike, students can attend distant schools, health care workers can reach more patients and adults can gain access to jobs and haul more goods in less time,” said Findlay.
After realizing the impact a single bicycle can make, Findlay, his older sister and his brother started working to gather used bikes for donations, repair them and ship them overseas to a small village in Botswana.
“I love the feeling when someone [contacts] me and says, ‘I have a bike to donate,’ because I know they’ve taken the time to think about where that bike in their garage [actually] is and who it will help. I love thinking that just the simple machine with two wheels that can empower them to change their own life, to get to school, to be able to work, to help their children,” said Findlay.
His current project plans to send 500 bicycles, along with bicycle repair tools, in 40-foot containers to the town of Ramotswa in Botswana. The shipping containers will then serve as Bicycle Empowerment Centers, non-profit bicycle repair shops in the community.
Along with providing the bicycles and repairing tools, the BH4 organization works with local people to help them develop the skills they need to manage bike programs and to ensure the community can maximize the resources they receive.
“My brother and I have worked closely with the government of Botswana, as well as bicycle and community organizers, towards the goal of making the bike workshop locally sustainable,” said Findlay.
Findlay’s avid support of B4H stems both from his passion for biking and from his first-hand observations of the impact that one bicycle can have on a life.
“I have always been inspired by the mobility a single bike offers and have biked across several countries in support of B4H-Boston. In addition to raising funds and awareness, my summer rides have shown me first-hand how a bike can actually change a life,” said Findlay.
“Pedaling through impoverished communities where better mobility could be the difference between being educated or healthy or having a job has had a motivating impact on me,” he continued.
Findlay plans to hold a bike collection event for the Boston Chapter of B4H this weekend, at a location about 5 miles from Andover. The donations will be added to the Botswana project this November.
“Recycling a bike in Andover can change a life in Africa. Many New Englanders have helped make a difference since we started two years ago. We hope to continue connecting communities near and far not only with bike relief but also with recycling ideas that translate into useful pedal powered devices that help communities in need,” said Findlay.