Bikes for Bikie

The Old Stone Mill Center takes donations of surplus materials from local sources. These materials are used in our Maker Space as part of a reuse inventory for remaking, repairing or redistribution.

Bicycle use is central to our mission, and it’s our passion, whether it is here in Adams or other parts of the world. We have been taking donations of bicycles at the mill for five years. As you might guess, there are quite a few (around 200) very inexpensive bikes, especially small ones for kids. These kids bikes have very few miles on them. We have started bike programs at Youth Centers, given them away, and sold them, but we still have plenty. That’s where Bikie comes in.

The Village of Bikie:  Republic of Congo

Bikie is a village in The Republic of Congo.  Our neighbor in Great Barrington, Pauline Dongala, is originally from The Congo. Pauline and three other Congolese have been sending containers of needed supplies to the Congo for many years. We met because she was interested in sending surplus linens we collect at the mill for her container.  That’s when we learned about her new project. “Bikie has not changed in the 19 years I have been in the U.S.”, she says. “There is still no electricity, no school, people still carry their water from streams. My siblings and I got together and decided to change that state of things by building a public primary school.”

“In my village, that rack would be for carrying people or things”.

It turns out that there are very few children who have bikes in The Republic of Congo. Most adult bicycles are used for utilities. They are a status symbol and rare. 

Children walk for 1-3 hours to get to school not just in The Congo, but many countries in the world. Just imagine if they could ride a bike!  Pauline enlightened us when she said, “ Supplying bikes for the children of Bikie is a revolutionary act.” 

This has started a unique partnership. The Old Stone Mill Center is now in the process of building sturdy plywood decks on our surplus kids bikes to add to Paulines’ shipping container to Bikie. These decks are strong enough to carry multiple people or 5 gallon containers of water.  We are also working on front racks, foot pegs, hand holds, and tie down straps to make these bikes as useful as possible. There are many programs that send bikes to the developing world. You may be familiar with Bikes not Bombs or the Buffalo Bike.

How you can help:

There are no programs that we know of that are sending kids bikes outfitted with sturdy racks like in the photo. Our goal is to expand this program with help from kids in the Adams area.  We hope neighborhood kids will enjoy learning simple bike mechanics for bikes that go to kids their age in the Congo. They can also be the test riders. It’s hard for us adults to test ride 16” wheeled bikes!   

Donate bikes especially cruisers, inner tubes, pumps, bike parts, new water bottles, water bottle cages: 

If you are involved in sending shipping containers with supplies for the developing world please contact us. Let’s work together. 

Donate money to drill a water well in Bikie. paudongala@gmail.com

Contact Mike and Leni at: info@oldstonemillcenter.org or call 413 634-5591 to donate bike related supplies or take a tour of the mill to see the bikes. Strict Covid protocol and an appointment time is all we ask.

» Great coverage by Scott Stafford of the Berkshire Eagle

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