My name is Antone Bwalya and I am the Production Coordinator at Zambikes. I have been working for Zambikes for about three years. I have learned carpentry, steel fabrication, bicycle mechanics and many other things in my time here. I now manage the farm and have to make sure things are done on time, materials are at the shop when they need to be, everyone is doing what they should be doing safely, and I am also in charge of quality control.
Last week I was able to travel 2,000 kms (1,300 miles) to northern Zambia to an area called Luwingu. It is a very rural area with bad roads, and with our recent rains the roads were even worse than normal. The Safe Mothers Action Group there had received 8 of our Zambulances a month earlier, and I visited to see how they were doing.
I already knew that these Zambulances had transported more than 40 mothers to rural health clinics to give birth. They have a great system where the women get a prenatal check up and get assigned a delivery week. The Zambulance will then pick them up on the desired week. Then they will stay at the clinic until they deliver the baby.
When I am in the workshop I often forget that we are not just building bikes or trailers. For many people, like the ones who belong to Safe Mothers Action Group in Luwingu, these Zambulances and bikes are the difference between life and death. This excites me knowing my work is not just a job but one that is changing and saving lives. I never realized what a difference these could make.
Thank you all. Through Zambikes you are not only supporting me by giving me training and a job, but together we are changing and saving lives. Please continue your support so that we can save more lives.
The Africare MCH program has provided one bicycle ambulance to each of our 18 Rural Health Centres but we find that they are only of use for people who live nearby the RHC. Currently, in an emergency, someone needs to find a bike and ride to the RHC, collect the ambulance, ride it back and then ride back to the RHC again with the person needing emergency care. This adds significant time to the trip. Even if you are only 5 km from the RHC, this means that it will take 15km of bike riding time to get the person to the clinic.
It would be far more effective if there were a bicycle ambulance stationed at each health post which could just make one trip to the RHC. Ideally, the RHC would have a motorcycle ambulance which can start to travel towards the bicycle ambulance and then even carry the person on the road towards the hospital and meet the main ambulance if need be. This is the model that MAMAZ is adopting and one that we hope to adopt if we can attract further funding. This would ideally mean that each RHC has between 10-16 bicycle ambulances stationed at or near their health posts.
Our Safe Motherhood Action Group volunteers therefore try to encourage women to attend the RHC before going into labour so they can travel to the RHC in good time and be observed before labour begins and be referred to the hospital for Emergency Obstetric Care in good time if need be.
My life before ZAMBIKES was tough and hard for me; I had lost hope in my dream career and my wish to become someone in life. I had a lot of financial struggles to get through in order to pass my grade 12, I thank GOD because by his GRACE I am a holder of a grade 12 CERTIFICATE. When I completed I felt the doors were closed on me, for me that was the end of my EDUCATION life I tried to work here and there so that I could raise money for college I even worked for ZAMTEL (Local Phone Company) as a sales agent but the job was so frustrating that I had to stop.
When I met the managers at ZAMBIKES, from what they told me I saw the light shine in front of me again, my hopes where raised and finally I believed that GOD was going to do it for me, and that was last year in 2011. ZAMBIKES has changed me now that I feel I have a great job, and it is going to help me raise money for school and help my parents to sponsor my three young siblings.
My favourite thing about ZAMBIKES is the love that the team have for GOD that really uplifts and encourages me to know GOD and want to have that personal relationship with the ALMIGHTY KING ABOVE, I Look forward for our team devotions every week, sharing the word of GOD and praying together gives me that sense of belonging. The BAMBOO BIKE amazes me each time I look at it, I enjoy learning about it and how it is made. My other favourite thing is the charity that the company gives out to the vulnerable people sponsoring people like me who are unable to pay for themselves at school.
My life before ZAMBIKES was very hard and difficult for me. When I lost my father 1n 2000, things changed, everything was all struggle, mum was left alone trying all she could to fend for us. When I qualified to go to grade 10, she never hard money to pay for school fees, and by than she had to pay for me and my 2 brothers, sadly I had to stop school. I stayed home for three years without going to school.
Luckily I met one guy who was working for ZAMBIKES by the name of macdee, he introduce me to Jeff who is currently in the USA. By GOD’S GRACE I was given a job as a cook, it was through this job that I managed to raise money for my school. I went back to school and I did my grade 10 -11, but I had to stop school because I had run out of money to pay for my 12 Th grade. Since then I have not gone back to school because am the one sponsoring my young siblings who one of them happens to be in grade 10 and the other in grade 8,my dream is to one day get to complete my high school and get to go to college.
ZAMBIKES has changed my life spiritually have grown to know the lord, my faith for GOD has being increased through the Devotions we have once a week with the ZAMBIKES TEAM. It is also through it that I have learnt how to manage money, look after myself and my family(mum, brothers and sisters),I have also managed to get a small plot where I am building a shop which I soon open up as my own business. My favourite thing about Zambikes is going out teaching people about bike maintenance, I enjoy mechanics e.g. assembling of bikes and repairing, working on the BAMBOO BIKE, and ribbing the bikes in my free time.
OFFICE BICYCLE MECHANIC
Don’t take our word for it, watch this video from a village over 16 hours drive/ride from Lusaka.