Inaugural Charity Dinner & Photo Exhibition

On Thursday, June 9th Biket Initiative had its inaugural charity dinner and photo exhibition at the restaurant, Potager des Halles. The evening’s theme was “Discover Mali”.

This purpose of the event was to introduce the public to our organization, as well as display photographs taken from past humanitarian trips. From more than five thousand photographs, fifteen were selected representing various themes such as women, children and, of course, bikes.

We’d like to thank everyone for their support that came out to help us celebrate.

Several photographs are still available for purchase. Since we are a small grassroots, volunteer- run organization, all proceeds directly benefit Biket Initiative.

Biket Initiative Celebrates National Cycling Weekend

The weekend of May 28th was a national celebration of cycling in France. This year’s theme was “Everybody Bike”, and the goal of the weekend was to get more people cycling, more often.

Biket Initiative celebrated with the city of Meyzieu, where more than 200 people participated in the afternoon’s 16k bike ride.  The festival attracted a diverse group of bike enthusiasts, including seasoned cyclists and amateurs.

The event was the chance for us to raise awareness about the problems of transportation in Mali and how bikes can even help alleviate problems such as illiteracy and unemployment.  We’d like to thank the city of Meyzieu for this opportunity to promote and celebrate cycling. Since Biket Initiative is a partnership effort with dedicated volunteers across continents, we truly believe that community participation is the key to progress.

Empty Your Pockets at The 24 Hours of INSA! May 21st and 22nd: Lyon, France

The 24 Hours of The National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA Lyon) is the largest free university festival in France.  Over 40,000 people will visit the campus the weekend of May 21st. It’s an occasion for people of all ages to come together.  This year, Biket Initiative will partake in the festivities with a modified version of a dunk tank. The public is invited to throw a ball at a target. If the target is successfully hit, a water balloon explodes over head of one of our brave volunteers.  To help motivate our volunteers, we are asking the public to donate any spare change.

We will be in front of the Humanities Building on Saturday, May 21st and Sunday, May 22nd from 2-6pm. Be sure to stop by and help support education in Mali!

For more information, please visit  http://www.24heures.org – contact@biket.org – (33) 06 81 25 48 64

Back from Mali

We’ve just come back from Mali, where we spent a week in the Mopti and Douentza regions.  The trip was extremely rewarding.  Our exchanges with community members and elected officials were moving, and the inauguration of the dam in Hombori was an equally emotional and joyous event.

The week was spent visiting the following regions to see about the possibility of implementing bikes and Biket Initiative bike building workshops:

  • Bandiagara – 9 candidate villages
  • Hombory – 7 candidate villages
  • Gossi – 3 candidate villages
  • Gandamia – 3 candidate villages
  • Koporo’na – 3 candidate villages

Each discussion confirmed the need to find a solution for transportation can facilitate access to junior high and high school. Most children stop going to school due to the lack of reliable transportation to and from school, as well as the absence of on-campus housing.

During this trip, we also looked into the possibility of enhancing school cafeteria lunches with the iron rich dietary supplement, spirulina, which is grown and farmed locally.

Thanks to the generous donation from the Mali Club at Jean Moulin Middle School in Chaville, we were able to purchase five bikes locally for students in the village of Tégourou.  This initial purchase is a trial to test the durability of the bikes.

I’ll soon be posting online a video interview with Abdramane, the Director of the Tégourou Primary School built by Grain de Sable. Abdramane and the school will be the first beneficiaries of Biket Initiative in the Bandiagara region.

 

Où sont passés les touristes ?

Balisage des zones à risque par le Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et Européennes Français

La question ici, n’est pas de savoir si le tourisme est lourd de conséquence sur l’environnement, il l’est, suivant comment il est structuré et comment le touriste souhaite vivre son expérience. Il s’agit plutôt de réaliser que parmi les faisceaux de revenus des populations très pauvres le tourisme est une clef de voûte au développement local. Le tourisme permet d’ouvrir des voies où, au delà des touristes, des associations travaillent grâce aux infrastructures déroulées pour faciliter les échanges touristiques.

Dans deux tribunes consécutives, le président de Point Afrique, a très justement souligné le cercle vicieux amorcé par la baisse de fréquentation par les touristes de zones perçues comme zones à risques. Il y a des causes – otage assassiné, développement de zone acquise à des causes religieuses extrémistes, code couleur alarmiste du Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et Euroépennes (MAEE) – et un effet… la baisse de fréquentation des touristes.
Nos chantiers sont en zones orange et rouge. Nous ne pouvons plus nous rendre sur un de nos futurs chantiers en zone rouge car nos interlocuteurs locaux nous ont clairement indiqué qu’il y avait des risques. Par contre le balisage orange MAEE est exagéré. Nos relations locales à Mopti sont très optimistes et sûres de la situation sur place et s’inquiètent par contre de la baisse significative des touristes ne sachant comment communiquer pour les rassurer.

Il est certain que la zone Nord de Tombouctou et la proximité de Kidal et Gao sont des zones “instables” versant plutôt dans le banditisme local. Mais l’effet cumulé du manque de touristes et de programmes associatifs supportant le développement local amène les idéologues d’AQMI à prendre le pas sur la population. Cette contagion transforme les propos alarmistes du MAEE Français en réalité. Première victime sur le terrain: la population.

Dérouler des programmes solidaires sur place, au Mali, requiert des ponts aériens. Ces ponts, à ce jour, ce sont des sociétés comme Point Afrique qui savent les mettre en place. Les projets Grain de Sable, pour être efficaces et pérennes, reposent sur l’existence du tourisme. Nous n’avons pas les moyens de gérer notre propre flotte de fret et de logistique.

Le voyage est une forme d’échange. Et je ne peux que vous inviter à visiter le Mali. Il faut voyager et se poser des questions sur le sens de son voyage :-) n’hésitez pas à naviguer sur le portail suivant Terres Jaunes Mali pour découvrir le Mali.

Thank You Club Mali at Jean Moulin Middle School in Chaville

Yesterday, on Saturday, December 11 2010, Victor Gottesman collected a  generous donation from students of the Club Mali at the Jean Moulin Middle School in Chaville. The students donated 223,80€ (for a total of 600€ including donations from 2009). Their most recent contribution will allow us to buy six bikes in Mopti.

The organization Grain de Sable will be on site in Mali from January 3-16 and will deliver the bikes to students in the village of  Tégourou. This is the first step to equipping students with bikes for the start of the academic school year in September 2011.

Biket.org: Up and Running!

And we’re off! The Biket Initiative website is finally up and running. Everything is set up, and we are ready for your participation.  More information about the site can be found under the sections Why, What and How.

Why a website? The number one goal of this site is transparency – to explain how and where donations are used, as well as how your contributions help develop the local economy.