5 years, 7,124 cycles and 15,000 girls’ lives positively impacted – all this, by one initiative. Sounds amazing, right? It is. But what’s even better is that this is nothing compared to what is to come. The Two wheels of Hope is an initiative by the Mentors Foundation, based in Pune. This initiative aims at providing schools in Rural Maharashtra with a bicycle bank, that is exclusively for girl students who walk to school for distances over 2 kilometres, on a regular basis. The main aim of this project is to empower girl children, by ensuring that they can commute to school and back, without having to worry about safety while walking alone and the stress of walking to and back from school every day. With this initiative, the foundation hopes to empower girls with sustainable mobility solutions, which will in turn help them complete their education and put them on a career path instead of having to get married at an early age. Though, to an urban reader, child/early marriage may seem a thing of the past, India is still on the map when it comes to child marriage – especially in rural areas.
The ultimate vision of this initiative is to positively impact the lives of over 1 million girls who are in the 6th to 12th grade, in Rural Maharashtra by creating a bicycle bank of 1 million cycles, by 2020. Currently, there are 135 schools that are part of this program. So, what happens to the bicycles, once the girls are done with their 12th grade? This is where the concept of a bicycle bank comes into play.
What is a bicycle bank? How does this work?
A bicycle bank is a concept where in an institution owns, or is provided with, a fleet of bicycles and sign a ‘letter of promise’ stating that the institution will bear responsibility to create and maintain the fleet of bicycles for the use of students. Students who meet the criteria receive a bicycle after signing a ‘service to own’ contract stating that the bicycle becomes their property for their academic years providing that they agree to attend classes regularly and return the bicycle on completion of their schooling. The returned bicycles are then transferred to other students who may require them.
The Launch of the ‘Two Wheels of Hope’ Program and Website
The Two Wheels of Hope program, along with the website, was officially launched on the 25th of May at the Appasaheb Pawar Auditorium, in Baramati. The launch was facilitated by Mrs. Supriya Sule, Member of Parliament and Ms. Carola Schouten, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Netherlands.