Today, ISBerne 11th grade students are working in a local bicycle refurbishing workshop at Velos für Afrika, Gump- und Drahtesel as part of their Community & Service requirement. Velos für Afrika, Gump- und Drahtesel is an NGO that employs long-term unemployed local people to help recycle bicycles, which are then shipped to communities in the developing world. The students are learning about the work the organisation does in Africa and witnessing the work that it does for the local community here by offering employment. Furthermore, they get some hands-on experience of fixing bikes and are learning what it takes to prepare them for export. Last spring the students who participated in this workshop also used the experience as the basis for a reflection piece on sustainable development, a unit they were simultaneously studying in humanities.
Below are a few excerpts of the students’ experiences:
“I believe that Velos für Afrika was a great and productive experience. I have to admit I was a little worried about working on bicycles for a whole day, but the skills I was able to take away from that warehouse/workshop along with the feeling of achievement the entirety of the class felt at the end of the day were worth the hard work and dedication (…) I learned that students can be as independent as adults when given the right tools, and it gave me more confidence towards future prospects and even opened new doors to me on the long-run, and on the short run!”
“I am now able to understand how the world works as a network, every decision we make will lead to the way future generations will be able to live their lives in the future. By reducing our waste through the recycling of bicycles, we not only save energy needed to burn them but are also able to help people in a different country. The idea, that by fixing one bicycle I am able to help a family in Africa by improving their mobility, allowing them to go to school, work and so on as well as improving my own life, is incredible.”