Sebouh Bazikian started Bikes 4 Orphans when he was just 16 years old. Despite still being in high school, he partnered successfully with Serving Orphans Worldwide to provide bicycles to youth in Zimbabwe for transportation and improved quality of life.
Now, nearly 10 years later, Bazikian is still at it. The organization has gotten a new name, One Bicycle Foundation, and brother Shawnt Bazikian and fellow UCLA graduate Matthew Davidian have joined the team. As of last week, the organization delivered another 35 bikes to the Matungu Community Development Charity and Riley Orton Foundation Organization for a total of 672 bikes delivered to 15 schools in nine countries around the world.
One Bicycle Foundation provides bicycles because they believe bikes to be a significant tool for personal empowerment, especially in rural communities. For many children, distance is a big challenge when it comes to accessing education, medical care, and other resources. According to their website, in these communities, only 27 percent of students feel safe walking to school, compared to 100 percent who bike. Bicycle access also improves school attendance by 25 percent and academic performance by 49 percent.
According to The Borgen Project, these bikes continue to be beneficial even after students finish school. Reliable transportation offers economic opportunities and for women, access to a bicycle offers protection from assault
Moving forwards, the organization plans to continue to make bicycles available to students in need and expand their reach into more countries. It may seem like a simple strategy, but access to a bicycle is one of the more cost-effective strategies for student empowerment, especially in underserved communities.
Image source: One Bicycle Foundation