Africa beckons for old bikes

WHEN Micko O’Byrne shipped his car from Fremantle to South Africa this time last year, he was intent on driving it to Europe just for fun.

But his plan changed on arrival, when he saw so many South Africans living in poverty. The semi-retired expatriate delayed his road trip to stay in Rorke’s Drift, a small hamlet about a four-hour drive north of Durban, to help impoverished school children.

Over the past month, the recently turned philanthropist and his recruited son—Blaze, 26, of Melbourne—have raised more than $12,000 to ship 300 bicycles from Fremantle.

“It is a great place, but a hard life for most,” Mr O’Byrne, 62, says.

“Huts have no electricity or running water, many people are infected with AIDS, funerals are a common occurrence (and) you see large numbers of children walking … dusty roads to get to and from school.”

The bikes will save children having to walk up to 20km—which takes about three hours—to and from school.

The shipment will arrive in Durban in five weeks and be distributed with the help of the David Rattray Foundation, an organisation which aims to improve children’s lives at 17 South African schools.

Mr O’Byrne does not know when he will get to make his journey to Europe: he’s looking forward to it but it’s no longer at the top of his list of things to do.


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