Bike for AIDS:
Bicycles that save lives in Malawi
Bicycles, especially if outfitted with a stretcher, can be of great assistance to those living with HIV and AIDS in Malawi. Through Bike for AIDS, WUSC Local Committees are fundraising to purchase bikes and bicycle-ambulances while also raising awareness on HIV and AIDS. The wheels are already in motion - help to keep the momentum going in the fight against HIV and AIDS!
Bicycles and Bicycle-Ambulances in Malawi
Malawi is among the world's least developed countries. The economy is heavily agriculture-based, with around 85% of the population living in rural areas. These people typically live some distance from paved roads and rely on bikes for long-distance transportation.
In rural Malawi, community-based volunteers trained as HIV and AIDS educators, caregivers and/or advocates travel to neighboring communities and homes to care for those affected by the virus. Their ability to serve people is limited by their lack of transportation. By using a bicycle, a health care worker can see up to 5 times as many patients.
If a Malawian living with HIV or AIDS needs medical attention and is unable to walk, getting to the clinic can be very difficult. Bicycle-ambulances provide a much safer alternative to wheelbarrows - a commonly used mode of transportation for hospital-bound patients. By attaching a lightweight trailer and removable stretcher to the back of a bicycle, bed-ridden or injured people can be transported to clinics without risking further injury along the way.
It is with this in mind that WUSC, through its Uniterra program, partnered with CAP AIDS to provide bikes and bicycle-ambulances to community based organizations through our partners’ networks.
A Sustainable Transportation Solution
Through Bike for AIDS, WUSC Malawi helps community based organizations to increase access to HIV and AIDS treatment and outreach programs by providing volunteer support workers with bicycles and bicycle-ambulances. But, creating a sustainable program like Bike for AIDS involves so much more than simply delivering bicycles! Through CAP AIDS, our partner in this project, all bicycles are purchased new from businesses in Malawi. By buying locally, we support community based economic growth and ensure that bikes can be fixed at nearby shops should they need repair. Second, we always work with grassroots partner organizations on the ground such as Malawi Network of AIDS Service Organisations (MANASO) rather than distributing straight to the end-user. This approach utilizes local knowledge on the best methods of distributing and maintaining the bikes, which ensures sustainable results and maximizes benefits for people in need.
Results to date
To date, Local Committees and Cap AIDS have financed the distribution of many bicycles and bicycle-ambulances since the project started in September 2005:
- 220 bicycles purchased and distributed.
- 171 bicycle-ambulances purchased and distributed to community organizations.
- 109 Community Based Organizations putting these bicycles to use.
- 218, 000 plus people benefitted from them
And more funds have been sent to Malawi to purchase even more bikes
What You Can Do
A $200 donation will buy a bicycle and $500 will provide a bicycle-ambulance, including costs for delivery and maintenance. To raise funds you can:
- Organize days of action around World Car Free Day (September 22) or World AIDS Day (December 1)
- Plan a Bike-A-Thon, Wax for AIDS, a Trike for AIDS or other related event
- Invite WUSC alumni (ie. past Uniterra volunteers) to present on HIV and AIDS in Africa.
- Coordinate with on or off campus Bike Centre or Bicycle advocacy/awareness groups.
- Organize an event around Critical Mass (last Friday of every month in most major cities)
Want to participate?
Check out the Bike for AIDS resources and get in touch with your regional liaison officer! Sign your committee up for the campaign on your My Committee account.
Donate or run a campaign on-line. This easy to use tool lets you fundraise online.
Bike for AIDS was developed in partnership with CAP AIDS, an organization whose mandate is to develop partnerships between Canadian and African non-governmental organizations and AIDS service organizations to help Africans resist, survive and overcome the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Five percent of the funds raised by the project go to support CAP AIDS in its Bike to CAP AIDS initiative.
Use the available material (and make your own!) to get people involved in the campaign and your events.
- 3 campaign posters (pdf)
- An info sheet (pdf)
- Power Point presentation on Bike for AIDS (ppt)
- The Local Committee Handbook (Sections on Fundraising and Planning Events)
- Bike for AIDS logo
- Fundraising FAQ
- Bike for AIDS FAQs (pdf)
- The "Bicycle" NFB film (on-line)
- You Tube video “Wax for AIDS” at Grant MacEwan
Articles from Malawi: