Bicycles for Humanity – people helping people

After reading in the Ottawa Citizen of South Africa’s plan to buy millions of bicycles for students to ride to school, Seb Oran decided she was going to buy a bike for an African child. Ever since backpacking across the continent, Seb has held a special place in her heart for Africa, so the story struck a chord. After searching the Internet for a way to purchase a bike in Africa, Seb found Pat Montani, founder of Bicycles for Humanity (B4H) in B.C., and after an inspiring conversation, Seb and her friend Sandra Gattola opened the Ottawa Chapter of B4H in June 2007. Their first 40 foot shipping container of 350 donated bikes, spare parts, tools, tires, rims, and even soccer balls, left Ottawa for Namibia in September that same year.

Here they are six years later and Seb and Sandra, with the help of volunteers, donors, sponsors and supporters have sent almost 3000 bikes, and set up 3 bicycle shops in communities in Namibia and Malawi. On arrival, the containers are transformed into community based Bicycle Empowerment Centres (BEC), with locals trained as bike mechanics, to enable existing community organizations, with these bikes, to improve access to healthcare, education, water, food and employment and to generate income to re-invest in the community.

people-helping-people-B4H-1670click image to view in a pop-up window, then use the expand/collapse (top right corner) to view full size

In these photos, volunteers at B4H Ottawa are accepting donated bikes for their 8th container destined for Kibera, Kenya. The two photos on the right show a shipment container being loaded and one of the Bicycle Empowerment Centres in Namibia. B4H is volunteer run and 100% of all donations go to transportation and setting up the BEC. B4H, people helping people*, one community at a time.

UPDATE: And here’s a time lapse of the B4H Ottawa Team loading the container two months later with the bikes destined for Kibera: And So The Journey Begins

Follow Bicycles for Humanity on Facebook at, or check out their web site at

additional links:
Take a moment to learn more about how Bicycles for Humanity are helping people…
Watch One Year One World – Bicycles for Humanity a video of B4H loading a container destined for Malawi.
Read about the impact of a Bicycle Empowerment Centre (BEC).
Read about some of the community based organizations B4H has worked with.
And read this to understand why bicycles?

UPDATE: The people helping people project did not go over as well as I’d expected so it never went any further than this first one. One of the difficulties was the Social Media aspect and getting permissions from all involved to post to Facebook or anywhere else. I may try to bring it back in a different form at a later date. Feel free to contact me if you have an interest in seeing this come back.

*“people helping people” is a 52 week photo project by Julian Luckham of Luckham Creative that began on August 19th, 2013, World Humanitarian Day. Each post will be a montage of photos and a story about a charitable organization that is helping people in our community, across Canada, or anywhere in the world. Once the project is complete it will be published as a book of all 52 posts, the proceeds of which will support these organizations. It is our hope that this project, and the book, will help bring attention to the causes of these organizations. If you know of an organization that might like to be a part of this project please send us an email through our contact page. Please like the people helping people Facebook page and share with all your friends.

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