Kids & Family

Boy's Idea Sends Thousands of Bicycles to Africa and Beyond

His efforts have been life-changing for thousands of children & families.

Winston Duncan and his mother Dixie are world travelers. They've visited more than 20 countries on four continents. But it was a trip to Africa in 2005 when Winn was 11 years old that changed their lives and the lives of thousands of other people -- forever.

On that trip, Winn saw an elderly woman and a boy walking together. The older woman was struggling. It reminded him of himself and his grandmother. How would this women get her medicine? How far does she have to walk? Does she have water and food?

In Tanzania. A bike can be life-changing for a third world family.

This gave him a great idea: wouldn't life be better for that woman, and for her whole community, if they had bicycles to get where they needed to go? That's how the idea for Wheels to Africa got started.

"I thought, how can I help these people. Then it dawned on me why not send bikes to Africa?" said Winn, who is now 24. "Everyone has an old bike, bikes can be used anywhere. And it sort of took off from there."

"I thought, how can I help these people?" Winn Duncan

Over the past 14 years, Wheels to Africa, based in Arlington, VA, has taken bikes donated or collected in bike "drives" and shipped them overseas. "The bikes have not only gone to Africa, but also to Puerto Rico, where people lost everything in Hurricane Maria. They're American citizens, and I personally felt like we need to do what we can to help," Dixie Duncan told the Washington Post .

Lining up for a bike in Puerto Rico.

As the organization has grown, so has Winn's effort to get kids in the Washington DC area involved in collecting and refurbising the bikes and even accompanying the organization's leaders on the distribution trips. "I wanted to try to get kids in this area to see how privileged we are and to try to get people to think about giving back," he told the Post.

One African boy, in a video on the organization's website, grinning ear-to-ear, sums it up when he expresses in broken English just how important the simple bicycle is to him and his family. "I'm so happy. Thank you, thank you so much!"

That's Winn, far left, and mom Dixie, second from left.

If you'd like to donate to Wheels to Africa, click here to go to their homepage , or click here for the donate section of their Facebook page . There you can also get ideas about how to do your own bicycle drive.

Bike drive volunteers in suburban Washington D.C.

(Images: Wheels to Africa Facebook page )

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