Wheels to Africa, a 501 ( C ) northern Virginia-based charity, will be collecting bikes in any condition Saturday at T.C. Williams High School to ship to the Jatukik Providence Foundation in Kikwit, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Founded three years ago by 14-year-old Winston Duncan, Wheels to Africa is hoping to collect 1,000 bikes in the one-day charity drive. Used, old, new and in any condition are appreciated. Any bicycles needing attention to function properly will be repaired once they arrive in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Receipts for the tax-deductible donations will be provided at the drop-off sites.
Bicycles in Africa help people improve their mobility and quality of life. Often, the bikes provide a lifeline to obtaining food and water as well as medical attention. Donations of $10 are requested for each bike to assist with shipping costs. Father Jean Claude Atusameso, a priest at St. Marys Church in Alexandria, is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and founded the Jatukik Providence Foundation. He is optimistic that they will collect a lot of bikes this Saturday at the five sites in the Washington area. Some of the childrens bikes will go to an orphanage for 450 children that his foundation helps run and other bicycles will go to village residents for basic transportation.
Duncan began collecting bikes in December 2005 after a vacation to southern Africa. He felt inspired to help find a better means of transportation for the African people. In southern Africa, he saw people walking long distances to pick up medicine and food because there are few cars and even fewer buses. In his first year he collected 275 bicycles and last year over 700 bikes were donated in one day. This year he hopes to surpass that total by holding the event simultaneously at T.C. Williams High School and several other locations in the greater Washington, D.C. area.