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After spending three months volunteering at the GLO last year, Peter and I knew we had to come back . So we set off on New Year’s Eve with a simple goal: to teach the children to ride a bike and swim. These life skills are essential, especially since the ocean is only a bike ride away!
After a very warm welcome back from all the children and staff, we quickly put our plan into action. We set up a JustGiving page to enable us to buy bikes and soon got plenty of donations coming in. We bought 3 bikes so that everyone could learn to ride. The kids were so enthusiastic which often resulted in arguments about which turn it was next! My teacher voice had to come out on more than one occasion!
We set up a routine so that everyone got their turn and the results were immediate. Within a couple of days, lots of children could ride and were so happy! Chérie and Eammon took a bit longer to get to grips with it as their coordination skills are not brilliant!
Wanting to ensure that bike riding was a fully inclusive activity, we went to Bombolulu workshop and bought a hand operated bike for the disabled. Lawrence, who cannot use his legs, had a brilliant day going to the shop to try out the bike and mastered it very quickly. Each day,as soon as he came back from school, he would ride his bike. The smile on his face said it all!
Saidi, who is mentally disabled, got very excited when he saw the bikes. Peter sat him at the back of his bike and took him round the track. Well, for the next few days, Saidi followed Peter like a shadow! The fact Peter always had treats for him ( biscuits, sweets or fruit) probably had a lot to do with it! After initially thinking someone would just push him, Saidi soon mastered the disabled bike and really enjoyed it.
By the time we left, only a handful of children, mainly the smallest ones couldn’t ride but will no doubt keep practicing! We hope that the Mamas and the Aunties continue to allow bike riding and supervise it.