After several years of teaching cycle skills around the Wellington region, it was clear to ReBicycle founders Mike and Hilleke Townsend that many kids didn’t have access to good usable bikes. Then a Facebook post prompted Hilleke into action. A steady stream of former refugees would be arriving in the Wellington region. These people often arrived with nothing, and it could be years before they would be able to drive or afford to run a car. She came across an Auckland initiative, Recycling Bicycles for Refugees, which put it simply;
“Bikes are a great way of preventing isolation and keeping the community in touch with each other. When you arrive here with everything you own in a small suitcase a bicycle is very valuable in many ways.”
So, after a night of bouncing name ideas off each other (names are important, right?), Hilleke and Mike founded ReBicycle. Together with fellow board members, Leah Murphy and James Burgess, and a dedicated group of volunteers they are steering the collection of quality donated bikes, fixing them up and distributing them through referrals from local agencies.
The first bikes went out to a Syrian family of former refugees. They’re still learning English so we’ll let the kids laughter show their appreciation.