Billings based humanitarian organization Wheels of Change http://www.wocinternational.org/, that brings empowerment and mobility to the people of rural Africa through donated bicycles has teamed up with Zoo Montana to help fill a shipping container targeted for delivery to the Wuparo Conservancy in the Caprivi region of Namibia. The public is invited from now until the container is full, to drop off donated mountain bikes at the zoo and in return receive a free pass for admission.
A representative of the Wuparo Conservancy in Namibia while touring Montana as part of a “No Borders” Tourism Exchange Mission September 6-16 will give his blessing to the shipping container (which can hold up to 400 donated bikes and parts) during a private welcome dinner at the zoo on September 6th. The shipment will travel from Billings to his homeland thanks to Wheels of Change, an international non-profit created by Billings-based Austin-Lehman Adventures (ALA - http://www.austinlehman.com/) dedicated to the simple belief that a bicycle can make a difference.
Dan Austin, ALA and Wheels of Change founder pointed out, “We will continue to accept donated bikes right up until we close the container doors. The good folks at Zoo Montana have been generous and allowed us to not only use their location as a staging area, but have also agreed to incentivize the public to donate with the reward of free zoo admission.”
Dan Austin is the director of Austin Lehman adventure travel which has a 38-year legacy of offering upscale active vacations in the Americas, Europe and Africa. ALA establish the international headquarters of Wheels of Change in 2011 which quickly received international commendation as recipient of Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2011 Global Vision Award for corporate innovation.
WOC partnering with the Bicycle Empowerment Network Namibia will use the bicycles to create a Bicycle Empowerment Center at the Wuparo Conservancy in the Caprivi region of Namibia. It is a coordinated effort involving Austin-Lehman Adventures, World Wildlife Fund, Catholic Services and Wheels of Change http://www.wocinternational.org/.
An award-winning safari camp in Namibia, Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge http://nkasalupalalodge.com/, expects to establish a village bike tour using some of the donated bikes. The tour will augment ALA’s safari programming on the wetland paradise known as Mamili or Nkasa Lupala National Park created by the many channels of the Kwando-Linyanti river system. The lodge and the Wuparo Conservancy are part of the successful and award winning Namibian conservancy program that won the 2011 Hospitality Association of Namibia Conservancy Tourism Award.
Wheels of Change, through the donation of new and used bikes, helps the people of Africa gain access to mobility and thus, a better life for all in their communities. As an organization, WOC wants to help form the foundation for positive economic and social change in Africa.
Bicycle Empowerment Network http://www.benbikes.org.za/namibia/ has grown since 2006 to more than 28 shops where Namibians can buy or rent affordable bikes and receive repairs thanks to Namibia's Bicycle Empowerment Centre.
A Bicycle Empowerment Center is achieved after up to 400 bicycles along with tools and spare parts are loaded into one shipping container that itself becomes a village operated bike shop providing a source of employment and revenue. A center provides refurbished bicycles free of charge to, among others, healthcare outreach volunteers and school children. Income from bike-related activities goes to assisting a sustainable business model while creating local jobs. Profits are reinvested in other community projects such as growing food for AIDS orphans, making micro loans to foster small enterprises, purchasing school uniforms, and paying school fees for disadvantaged children.
Austin asks that anyone wishing to donate money, bikes, helmets, parts and/or tools for the current shipment to bring them to Zoo Montana http://www.zoomontana.org/ located at 2100 S Shiloh Rd, Billings, MT ph: (406) 652-8100. Those wanting to get involved and support the general work that is being done are asked to call or email Dan at email@example.com or 1-406-671-6067.
Contact Widness & Wiggins PR for photos, interviews and more information:
Dave Wiggins / 303-554-8821 / firstname.lastname@example.org
ALA / WOC Contact information:
Dan Austin / email@example.com / 1-406-671-6067