A cooperative effort of two Western Washington companies Lacey-based Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care (Alaffia) and Seattle-headquartered PCC Natural Markets (PCC), will help African teens avoid missing school due to lack of transportation.
For six years “Bicycles for Education,” a program of Alaffia, has organized the collection, transportation and distribution of used bicycles for the benefit of teens in Togo, a small country in West Africa. The bicycles are distributed to school-age teens for transportation between their villages and schools as far as nineteen miles away. Alaffia founder, president and Togo native, Olowo-n’djo Tchala, knows first-hand the challenges of overcoming poverty as a child growing up in his homeland.
With the help of volunteers and organizations including PCC Natural Markets, Tchala arranges local bike collection drives, pays for the crating and shipping of bicycles to Africa, and navigates the considerable red-tape involved in gaining approval from the Togo government to off-load and distribute the bikes to deserving students.
Noeline Tam, the recipient of a bike in 2009, said “Thanks to my bike I can avoid certain dangers, such as snakes and scorpions that always worried me when I walk to school. The bicycle also helps my health in the dry season, because now I don’t have to walk in the intense sun for a long time. This gift from Alaffia has created a change in my family and my village.” Noeline is planning to enter midwifery school once she graduates from high school.
PCC has hosted and promoted bike drives in 2008 and 2009, during which more than 500 bikes were collected. “Our customers appreciate this opportunity to give their used bikes a purposeful second life that helps young students escape a future of poverty,” says Sara Walsh, PCC’s community relations manager. This year, PCC will host a third annual bike drive at two of its stores. Functioning, adult sized used bicycles will be accepted.
Saturday, July 24 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kirkland PCC 10718 N.E. 68th Kirkland, Wash. 98033
Sunday, July 25 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Seward Park PCC 5041 Wilson Ave. S. Seattle, Wash. 98118
“We at Alaffia want nothing more than to bring communities together to achieve a common goal”, says Angela Baker, Alaffia’s community affairs coordinator. “We strive to break barriers and create bridges, demonstrating the value of traditional methods, centuries old, of hand crafting shea from nut to butter across the world.”
More information on the upcoming bike drives can be found on PCC or Alaffia’s Web sites. For volunteer opportunities, contact Angela Baker at 360.866.0080 ext. 202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About PCC Natural Markets: Headquartered in Seattle, WA, PCC Natural Markets is a certified organic retailer with annual sales of $138 million and an active membership of more than 44,000 households. PCC operates nine locations in the Fremont, View Ridge, Greenlake, West Seattle, Seward Park, Kirkland, Issaquah, Redmond and Edmonds neighborhoods. www.pccnaturalmarkets.com
About Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care: Located in Lacey, Wash., Alaffia produces a line of handcrafted skin care products made from fairly traded shea butter and other ingredients indigenous to Africa. Alaffia and the non-profit organization, Global Alliance for Community Empowerment (GACE), work together to return Alaffia sale proceeds to projects in Africa that support the sustainability of rural communities. www.alaffia.com and www.empowermentalliance.org