Lifestyle

Port Orchard bikes will enhance African lives

The forty bikes were sent from Port Orchard to Ghana last week were prepared by Olympic Bike Shop owner Fred Karakas (center) for Point Hope Foundation director Jan Haynes (right). Anna Karakas (left) helped her father repair the bikes.  - Charlie Bermant
The forty bikes were sent from Port Orchard to Ghana last week were prepared by Olympic Bike Shop owner Fred Karakas (center) for Point Hope Foundation director Jan Haynes (right). Anna Karakas (left) helped her father repair the bikes.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

A truckload of bikes from Port Orchard were driven across country last week, where they were due to be loaded on an African-bound freighter.

Once delivered, they will be used to ease the transportation needs of a large refugee camp in Ghana.

“These bicycles will be very important to the people in the camps,” said Point Hope Foundation Executive Director Jan Haynes. “Bicycles are hard to come by in that area and are valuable, because they represent the only way people can get from place to place.”

The Point Hope Foundation was founded by Port Orchard resident Delilah Rene as a way to place African children in foster homes.

Its board includes local author Debbie Macomber, as well as what Haynes calls “a lot of other interesting people.”

Currently, the foundation has about $750,000 in its coffers, according to Haynes.

Most of the bikes will be used by the camp’s security force, as well as those charged with managing the camp’s newly installed fresh water system. About 12 children’s bikes are included, and they will play a unique role.

“Children in the United States take their bikes for granted,” Haynes said. “It’s different in Africa. Bikes are very special and valuable. We are looking at ways to use this to help the community, such as turning it into a contest where the kid who does the best job of cleaning up a specific area will win a bike.”

The 144-acre camp is home to about 22,000 people, according to Haynes.

The new water system has decreased water-borne diseases by 75 percent, providing fresh water for about a penny a gallon.

Before the pipes were installed, residents would pay far more for polluted water.

The system requires monitoring and payment processing, with the attendants required to move quickly from one place to another.

The bicycles, according to Haynes, will make the job easier.

The bikes were donated by Fred Karakas, owner of the Olympic Bike Shop on Bay Street. Karakas regularly repairs and ships bikes to Africa, but his local source didn’t participate this year and he had no way to ship the bikes to their destination.

Upon hearing this news two weeks ago, Karakas said he was walking through his shop — which has several hundred bikes piled together — “and asking God what I was going to do with all these bikes. Just then, Jan walked into the shop and asked me if I had any bikes I could donate.”

Karakas said he could have the bikes ready in a few weeks, but Haynes said they were needed in five days in order to make it on the freighter.

This was shortened one day, but Karakas managed to have all the bikes ready by Nov. 17.

The next day, they were loaded into a truck and driven to South Carolina.

To prepare for the rough landscape, mountain bikes were used instead of the more fragile thin-tire models.

Karakas also included some extra seats and tubes, which can be cut up and used as patch kits.

Haynes said that locks will not be included as part of the package.

“Since the bikes are so valuable that means that people will take very good care of them,” Haynes said, “so the owners won’t let them out of their sight during the day, and will drag them into their house at night.”

For more information or to participate in the foundation write jan@pointhope.org.

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