Happening nearby: PCC Natural Markets to host used bicycle drive to help West African girls stay in school

Donated bikes are put to good use – helping girls in West Africa get to school.
Donated bikes are put to good use – helping girls in West Africa get to school.

The Edmonds PCC Natural Markets will host a Bicycles for Education drive Saturday, Sept. 27 from noon-2 p.m. People can drop off used bikes at the store, located at 9803 Edmonds Way in Edmonds.

The event is sponsored by Alaffia, an organization with mission of “alleviating poverty and advancing gender equality in West Africa,” according to the Alaffia website.

The Bicycles for Education program, which started in 2004, collects bicycles in Washington and Oregon and then Alaffia pays to send them to West Africa, said Alaffia Communications Liaison Ian McGregor. Bicycles are typically sent to girls between the ages of 14-18, he added.

In Togo, one of the areas where the bikes are sent, there is a 90 percent dropout rate before sixth grade for girls in rural areas, according to the Alaffia website. One of the contributing factors is the students’ commute from home to school. Since the program began, Togo has seen a 95 percent passing rate on annual exams for recipients, McGregor said.

“This is such an important way for Edmonds and Washington to take part in what’s happening around the world,” McGregor said.

At each event, organizers hope to collect 20-50 bikes, with the goal of 1,000 bike for the year, McGregor said.

Alaffia also operates a Certified Fair Trade beauty store in Olympia, which funds the bicycle program. Products can also be purchased online or in select groceries stores.

Since the program collects only used bicycles, it keeps them from ending up in landfills. Any bicycles that are not in good enough condition to ship to Togo are sent to scrap metal recyclers; and small bikes are donated to local food banks and foster care programs in Washington state.

You can learn more about Alaffia’s Bicycles for Education program or their beauty stores at www.alaffia.com.

— By Lily Jaquith

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