The idea of biking virtually to Malawi didn’t seem all that odd in the context of Covid-related restrictions. We are so grateful to all the people who engaged with the idea and enthusiastically at that. It was fun and people responded in all sorts of ways, increasing their engagement with us and with our work in Malawi.
We made it to Bandawe, North Malawi with a few days to spare – 10,679 miles. Bandawe was home to Mamie and Jack Martin for most of their time in Malawi. Having arrived we exuberantly undertook a victory lap of Lake Malawi and completed over 1,000 miles on that extra ride. These miles/kms were made up of short, medium and long trips by our Bike2Malawi riders. Everyone will get a certificate, stating their own total. This is not, and never would be, a competition or race and so no comparative data is being made available. Your distances are your achievements. Well done to you all. Here are some of the images you shared.
67 people registered including two children. 36, more than half, of those riders were new to the Mamie Martin Fund. This expansion of our supporter base is a real achievement for us and we are delighted to engage with so many new people.
Those riders live in Scotland, England, Germany and Ireland, in order of the numbers in each country.
There were 583 separate logs of distances ridden. These started on the day of the launch and finished after 10 pm on on the final day.
11 riders set up fundraising pages and raised £2,207.18 between them, not counting gift aid.
A further 34 people donated to the VirginMoneyGiving (VMG) fundraising page and several others to the main MMF page; funds donated outside of the VMG page were added to the total showing on the VMG page.
Bike2Malawi has been a huge success in terms of engagement and profile-raising. We have also raised more than £7k, a new record for MMF which is likely to be broken this year by the #Pledge100 team. That success could not have been achieved without the help of Andrea Adden during the planning stage; her managing the numbers once we started was also invaluable. Our launch could not have been professional and effective without the generous help of Jade, Craig and David from the Scotland-Malawi Partnership and the video work done by Richard Robinson.
Jenni Barr is one of our #Bike2Malawi riders and is also a Trustee of the Dunblane-Likhubula Partnership, another Scottish-Malawi charity. Like so many small charities we team up where we can for mutual support. Jenni, along with Ann Hale, also from the Dunblane-Likhubula Partnership is cycling for #Bike2Malawi and simultaneously fund-raising for the Likhubula community. She has written about her 6-day cycle ride in the Trossachs in Scotland, including the Duke’s Pass which is a difficult hill for a car, never mind a bike, even an e-bike like Jenni’s.
“This has been tough!! I had 5 days clear for cycling and the wonderful offer of a bed in the Trossachs. I persevered through an injured sciatic nerve, thunderstorms and flooded country roads to add 255.5 miles to my #Bike2Malawi total. I’ve loved cycling through the Trossachs while listening to John le Carré on Audiobooks. I was the subject of several heckles but the best was from a 30-year-old as we passed on a hill (me cycling up) – ‘If you can do this, anyone can!!’.
I’ve long loved cycling, though these six consecutive days have taxed me. But I want to thank the challenge of #bike2malawi for pushing me forward to ride the Duke’s Pass in both directions, cycle round Loch Katrine and back three times in a week, commune with deer and foxcubs who didn’t even move off the road. No Pelaton ride could give you the smell of damp greenery or the passing sounds of streams and waterfalls by the roadside – every sense is engaged. When it got tough, I remembered the value of the support to the community at Likhubula. I’ll sleep tonight!”
Continuing our series of posts by Bike2Malawi riders, Violet Hejazi writes:
“I am a law student who is also a former refugee. I come from Syria, and I am one of the riders of the #Bike2Malawi team organised by the Mamie Martin Fund in support of girls’ education in Malawi.
After a long time spent at home in lockdown doing things I had to do, it was finally the time to do the thing I chose to do!
On a sunny, non-lockdown day, and along with very cool friends and for a great cause, I cycled by the coast of Lancaster and had the best chips in Morecambe. We took some photos and ate some cake.
I found a jasmine tree that filled my heart with joy and made me feel at home. We said hello to the wee kid on his tiny bicycle as we pushed our pedals to raise money to help girls in Malawi pursue their education and secure a decent future for themselves and their families. Going up and down semi-hills, which to me felt like proper steep hills, I was reminded of the struggles that young girls in Malawi face daily and the significance of making education accessible and obtainable for them. I reflected on my childhood and, despite all of the obstacles, how lucky I was in having had the opportunity to be in school and not worry about accessing education.
I am taking part in cycling 100 miles to raise awareness and fund this project, hoping that one day no child will be deprived of their right to be educated and can grow up to become independent, successful members of society.
This was the first 16.5 miles of the 100 miles I will be cycling over the summer, which I am very excited to complete and share stories about!”
Willie Sinclair is the grandson of Mamie and Jack Martin and a Bike2Malawi rider. He reflects:
The bicycle as a mode of transport was very new and exciting when Jack and Mamie Martin were growing up. It makes me happy to know that the bicycle is now a vehicle for funding the work they, especially Mamie, were so passionate about 100 years ago. Today I was an object of interest to some inquisitive cattle in Glen Clova.
The bicycle shares with the sewing machine a remarkable feature: both designs are essentially the same now as when they were first conceived. (I thank my pal Charlie for that snippet.) The classic diamond-framed bike we all know and love has been with us essentially unchanged since the 1890s. Jack and Mamie were born in the 1890s. Today, while toiling uphill from Dykehead, I reflected on their hardiness. The roads they cycled on were rough, they endured multiple punctures and their big heavy bikes had only one gear. But the bicycle was the Smartphone of its day: an exciting NEW and innovative aid to communication and travel.
In Malawi, as in many other cash-poor-talent-rich countries, riding a bike is not seen as a leisure activity. It is fuel-efficient emissions-free human-powered short-haul transport. Cuba had a potentially catastrophic collapse in oil supply when their main fuel source, the USSR, ceased to exist. Instead of selling their principles for American oil they ordered a million bikes from China. But I digress.
The strength, literally, of the bicycle is its geometry: two steel tubular triangles and two big rotating circles which by gyroscopic means (no, I don’t know how to explain it) resist the tendency to fall over. Wow! Imagine the hoo-hah if it was being invented today. We tend to think of it as having been around forever but the last few years of the nineteenth century is really not long ago. (I’m starting to sound like an old man!) The way things are going in the world today I see the bicycle outliving the motor car, which is ironic as many motor manufacturers started as bicycle builders.
Our #Pledge100 project celebrating the centenary of Mamie and Jack Martin’s marriage and journey to begin their new life together in Malawi, was launched in early January and now almost a month later is very definitely up and running.
We already have 13 pledgers (with several more in the pipeline) from places as far flung as North America, Hungary, Portugal, Berkshire, Falkirk, Glasgow and the Scottish Highlands. The idea is that people pledge to do 100 of something they enjoy in 2021 and we have a great range so far: cycling with selfies, open water swims (in the North Sea!), running 5ks, walking (on different continents), doing yoga, taking photos, making cakes and beautiful cards and cheering us all up by sharing 100 Top Tunes. Some people are completing their pledges alone and some in a team. 2021 has just begun so there’s still plenty of time for more people to join in and add their pledges to our eclectic group.
Our pledgers are all fired up with enthusiasm and say that the Pledge100 has helped to get them through a dark January and focus on something positive at this difficult time. All of the pledgers believe passionately in the importance of education for girls and empowering future generations of women in Malawi. Now more than ever these girls need our support to help them complete their secondary education.
Our pledgers have been sharing photos on social media and encouraging other people to join in this celebration or to support our challenges. The more the merrier – we’d welcome your support.
Violet Hejazi has signed up to take part in our Story on Bikes cycling project, which we are optimistically planning to start on 31st July. Meanwhile she is using her daily exercise slot to get some cycling practice in Pollock Park in Glasgow.
She loves the wild garlic there which she eats with salad and some cooked grains. Violet is from Syria and neighbours broke her bike when she was nine years old because they disapproved of girls cycling. So her bike is a symbol of freedom for Violet in more ways than one. She was given a bike by Bikes for Refugees Scotland last year and has been supported in learning to ride and maintain it by Soul Riders in Glasgow.
You can encourage Violet by making a small donation on her fund-raising page. Why not think beyond lockdown and consider cycling with her? You can book on here.