by Nancy McDaniel
Many people who go to Africa for the first time refer to it as a life-changing experience. I know that I felt and said that when I first went to Kenya on safari in 1987. I suppose it is hyperbole to say that each time I go back to the continent, it changes my life. It’s actually more of a re-affirmation. As I once said, when I am in Africa, whether on safari or in a rural area with local people, I am “the best me I can be.” I don’t know why; it just always happens. It is where I am the kindest, most interested, most engaged… and happiest.
And it just happened again. I returned from two weeks in Zambia the end of July. I still think about this trip every day. I saw a water bottle attached to a bicycle yesterday and I got tears in my eyes (more on that later).
The Reason For The Trip
I have recently become aware of and involved with a wonderful Chicago-based not-for- profit organization called World Bicycle Relief. Their mission is brilliantly simple and simply brilliant: “World Bicycle Relief is a nonprofit organization transforming individuals and their communities through The Power of Bicycles.” I was planning to go to southern Africa anyway last summer and when I saw they were offering a trip called “Africa Rides” to visit their projects in Zambia, I decided to sign up.
Before I went, I started a Grassroots Fundraising Effort for WBR. My initial goal was to raise enough money to donate 10 bikes (at $134 each) which I would match, for a goal of 20 bikes ($2680).
I promised to send photos of kids and bikes when I got back; this appeal certainly worked! Due to the generosity of friends and the powerful appeal of this organization, my total was over $10,000 (that’s 75 bright new shiny Buffalo Bikes, especially designed and built for the uncompromising rough terrain of the rural areas where they would be living)