Monday, April 2, 2007

Quick Update

Hey folks. Sorry it has been a while since my last post. I have been pretty busy lately and have not had the time, or really the idea of throwing something up on the blog due to my mind being on other matters. But today I want to tell all that the bicycles are going through customs at the moment here in Kigali. They should be out in about a week.

Within the past couple months I have been busy still prepping the ground of the coffee bikes. The past week and a half I have been training two groups of mechanics from the Karaba and Maraba cooperatives to build the bikes when they come into town. They have been good to work with overall, of course there have been cultural challenges along the way, but I have to say that I have a crew of bright, hard working, and cool individuals. They have been great to work with. The picture above is the Maraba group working on dissasembling a bike and putting it back together. I hope that out of these groups will come those that will man the bike shops that are going up at the processing/washing stations. The sustainability of the program lies in these people, and I hope that I and others coming over here will further educate them in these bicycles.

I am working on making metal racks for these bicycles at the moment as well. I am hiring a local metal shop to crank out 1,000 racks to fix to the top of the bicycle. The metal shops in this country are crazy. Their welders are homemade, made out of copper coils with some wires stringing from them, to make up the welding gun and the ground. They weld without eye protection most of the time, and when they do have eye protection they use normal sun glasses. Then there are the grinders in the metal shops, with red hot sparks blowing in whichever direction, no eye or ear protection. I tell ya, they are nutz.

Anyways, there are other things as well like making educational material for working on the bicycles when the farmers receive them. All in their local language, Kinyerwanda. I also have a list of Kinyerwanda saying of bike parts and actions for some of us foreigners to use while working alongside these Rwandans. I will list some below.

Well, I hope to throw up some more exciting posts in the near future when these bicycles are distributed in the coops.

Thanks for reading. -Jay

Kinyerwanda Bike Parts and Actions. I know, this is very aplicable material.

Bicycle – singular: igare (ee-gare-eh)
Plural: amagare (ah-mah-gare-eh)

Wheel – Ipine (ee-peen-ney)
Tire – Ipine / Umupira (ooh-mooh-peer-rah)
Handlebars – Amahembe (ah-mah-hem-bey)
Frame – Kadre (cod-rey)
Crank Arm – Manuveri (man-oo-ver-ee)
Pedal – Ikirenge (ee-kee-rein-gey)

Tighten – Funga (foon-gah)
Tighten a lot/hard – Funda Chaney (foon-gah cha-ney)
Tighten this Bolt – Funga iri bulo (foon-gah ee-ree boo-lo)

Loosen – Fungura (foon-goo-rah)
Loosen this bolt – Fungura iri bulo (foon-goo-rah ee-ree boo-lo)


Kate McCullough said...


That is so great that you ended up in Rwanda. I think we randomly bumped into each other at Coupa Cafe last year.

I remember that you had just come back from NY. It's awesome that you were able to pursue your interest in international development.

Guess what. I work for now.

it would be great to talk further about what you're doing in Africa.

If you ever get a chance, send me an email.


Kate McCullough (yes, we're oddly connected through your grandmother)

Lee said...

wow! how many bikes are coming in?

i'm working on a thesis paper including project rwanda, and have really enjoyed following your progress on the ground there! would love to know a little more about when you think you may be delivering them.

Jay Ritchey said...


500 bikes are going through customs at the moment here in Rwanda. 500 more are on the road between Dar El Salaam and Kiglai. And staying in line with the charatcer of customs, they are taking longer than expected. But within a week they should be free and then transported to Butare, then be built and then its time to rock and roll.

If you want to continue this conversation please email leave me your email here in the comment section.

Later Lee.