By Sara Shelton
When young activist James Barnett first heard the goal of the non-profit organization Bicycles for Humanity – Georgia, he found himself instantly inspired. As the founder of his own unique organization, Clothe Your Neighbor As Yourself, dedicated to the improving the lives of those in poverty in and around the US, the idea behind the organization spoke directly to his heart.
“I love the vision of B4H,” Barnett explains. “It’s one of the true unique visions I can truly get excited about when I think of what they want to do and what it will accomplish around the world.”
Bicycles for Humanity (B4H) Georgia is a non-profit organization with a mission to empower individuals to improve their quality of life by transferring mobility through the use of bicycles.
As an affiliate of the Canada-based organization Bicycles for Humanity, founder Mary Harwell started the Georgia chapter with the simple mission to empower individuals and families in need by transporting donated bicycles from the US to the small community of Okolongo, Nambia to assist in creating mobility, jobs, and opportunities for the people in Okolongo.
“Because of the profound impact that a bike can have on the life of a person living in poverty, we believe that just by transferring transportation we can help empower an individual with mobility to make things like employment, education, and health care more accessible,” B4H Georgia founder Mary Harwell says. “One bike can change one life and one life can change on community.”
B4H Georgia set their first goal right away: to raise 400 bikes and $10,000 to send them to the people of Okolongo within the year. Harwell says they are about half way to their goal, still requiring about $4,000 dollars and 250 bikes before they can be ready for shipment. When she told her childhood friend Barnett this news, he was moved to action to help the B4H meet their goal.
Starting on October 23rd, Barnett and four friends will be biking about 700 miles down the coast of California to raise funds and awareness about the B4H movement. The trek will begin in Fort Bragg, CA and end about a week later in Los Angeles. The five guys are hoping the through sponsorship and word of mouth they can get B4H the funds they need to ship their bikes to the people waiting anxiously in Okolongo.
“I’m not a pro biker by any means so I know this will be difficult,” Barnett states simply. “But what keeps me going in these situations is the fact that I know we are advocating for others. I want do to this so that together, we can create a new and better way of living for people in need.” Barnett and his crew are currently training for the upcoming journey and working with B4H Georgia to get financial sponsors for the trip. Those looking to get involved can donate a flat rate or sponsor Barnett and crew by pledging a dollar amount per mile. The goal is to get close to, if not reach, the remaining $4000 by the end of the trip.
“We want to bike together so that the people of Namibia can bike together,” Barnett continues. “Maybe through us, the people of the US can get on board and work with B4H to change lives across the world. We’re excited to see what’s next.”
For more information on James and his journey for B4H Georgia or to sponsor some mileage on his upcoming trek, visit the Bicycles for Humanity website.
Sara is a Tennessee native now living it up in Atlanta, Georgia. She works daily as a dance teacher, freelance writer, and general lover of creative work. She enjoys her family, her friends, a good book, a good day outside, and a good laugh. Her current goal is figuring out how to travel the world and she looks forward to seeing it happen!