Creating a Community Bicycle Lab

Girls in Mara, Tanzania ride bicycles.

Girls in the region of Mara, Tanzania, ride bicycles.

Students will help develop a Community Bicycle Lab through Hope Revival Children's Organization (HRCO) in Mara, Tanzania in collaboration with Spoke Folk Community Bicycle Project in Dunkirk, NY.

Project description

This project involves collaborating with Hope Revival Children's Organization, a core partner led by Stephen Marwa, to develop a bicycle lab that will offer a wide range of programs and services including business and skill development, employment opportunities, bicycle repair, technical education, and health awareness. The project will build on recent donations of more than 30 bicycles to girls at HRCO with the goal of supporting their educational success through a reliable and independent source of transportation.

Bicycles have a long history with regard to fostering independence and self-sufficiency for underrepresented and vulnerable populations both within the US and abroad. Since 2007 Spoke Folk Community Bicycle Project has operated in Dunkirk, NY, built on the assumption that a volunteer staff could be recruited and trained to make a number of bicycle related programs and services available to area residents. Over the years, Spoke Folk has received a number of awards and recognition for its innovative community programs including "Meals on Two Wheels" and the "Every Kid Deserves a Bike Program." Together with support of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation and its partners, Spoke Folk continues to work toward building a healthier community, one bicycle at a time. Now, through the Creating a Community Bicycle Lab Project, it seeks to build on its foundation, enhancing opportunities for girls and youth in Mara Tanzania.

Since receiving the first donations of bicycles in 2019, more than 20 girls have benefited from the independent transportation provided, allowing them to attend school and further their education. Ongoing projects involve documenting the  impact of the bicycles through telling the girls' stories and helping to support ongoing fundraisers. Future projects will focus on online bike repair trainings and developing internal capacity to support the next stage of this evolving project. 

Project outcome

The project seeks to develop a self-sustaining social entrepreneurship model that will help empower girls in Musoma and the Mara Region, while adding various benefits to those involved. Because this is such an ambitious and multi-faceted initiative, there are many ways for students to get involved and contribute their time and talents. Individual projects may include but are not limited to:

  • Sourcing bike tools and parts in nearby cities including Nairobi, Kenya, Arusha and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and creating detailed budgets
  • Developing a digital library of videos and resources related to bike repair and construction
  • Developing a marketing and communications plan to help build capacity and related resources
  • Capture the stories of the girls who have received bicycles and those who hope to receive in future
  • Identify possible partners, sponsors and external funding resources

The specific outcomes of this project will be identified by the faculty mentor at the beginning of your collaboration. 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment About a semester (3-5 months)
Start time Anytime
Level of collaboration Variable
Benefits Multiple
Who is eligible All are welcomed
Support Funding is available after the completion of the preparation badge. See below.
Truman and Fulbright Scholarships

Students participating in this project might be interested in and eligible for the Truman Scholarship and the Fulbright Scholarship. Connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to learn more.

Core partners

  • Hope Revival Children's Organization, Stephen Marwa, Executive Director
  • Richard Goodman, project originator and Emeritus Staff at SUNY Fredonia

Project mentor

Mara Huber

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning, Director of

Experiential Learning Network

Phone: (716) 829-2834

Email: mbhuber@buffalo.edu

Preparation

To engage with this project, you will work through a series of Project-Based Collaboration digital badges to guide your experience. 

To get started, contact the project mentor using the contact information above to discuss availability and after you’ve received approval, you can start the Project Preparation Digital Badge. Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor

Preparation guidance

Once you have registered for the Project Preparation Digital Badge, you will receive further instructions related to the activities you will need to complete. In addition, you will also complete the following preparation activities for this particular project:

  • General Context: Students are to meet with a UB Subject Librarian to develop an annotated bibliography related to the role of bicycles in empowering communities of interest. Students must also develop a basic familiarity with Mara Tanzania and Hope Revival Children's Organization within the context of the UB Tanzania Partnership initiative 
  • Specialized Context: Based on a student's particular interest, they must establish some basic skills and/or knowledge that will allow them to contribute to the Bicycle Lab initiative