By Joel Tang, SMU School of Accountancy and Project Bike4Change3 Leader
“Changing Lives, Two Wheels at a Time.”
This is the vision of Project Bike4Change, an Overseas Community Service Project (OCSP) initiated in 2016 by Adeline Jong, a current Year 4 SMU School of Information Systems student. How this came about was very special, as the motivation behind this OCSP stemmed from combining one’s love for biking with the desire to want to make a difference to the community. Having just concluded the third instalment of Project Bike4Change, I write this with many fond memories still etched deeply in my mind.
The primary aim of Project Bike4Change is to improve the accessibility of students living in the rural parts of Bohol, Philippines, to their schools and back, through biking. As there isn’t an established transport system in Bohol, getting to school is an uphill task, which is why Project Bike4Change seeks to change that—by providing bikes to the students as well as teaching them how to cycle and maintain their bicycles. We hope to create a culture of students cycling together to and from school while furnishing them with a renewed sense of purpose for education.
Sustainability is key, and the team from our third project instalment set off to Fatima National High School (FNHS) to reinforce all that had been done in the past two instalments.
Presenting the Project Bike4Change3 team
As our team arrived in FNHS, I was overwhelmed by the warm reception given by the principal, teachers and students. There was so much fun and laughter amidst all the singing and dancing; and honestly, I just felt such genuine joy and life in the atmosphere.
Opening dance by Grade 12 FNHS students
Opening dance by the Project Bike4Change3 team
This energy level never waned even as we conducted our programme. In course of the programme, we had the opportunity to work with 25 bike beneficiaries selected by the school. One particular indelible and heart-warming memory for me was when I saw these students’ faces beam as they received their bicycles.
Bicycle presentation to the 25 bicycle beneficiaries
Throughout our two weeks in FNHS, we conducted multiple ride-outs together with the bike beneficiaries, and held basic bicycle maintenance lessons—which was especially crucial given Bohol’s uneven terrain.
Bicycle maintenance workshop underway
To further spur the students on and impart to them the value of education, our team carried out life lessons for the Grade 9 and 10 students, focussing on topics such as self-discovery, overcoming conflict, teamwork and positivity. Through facilitated sessions, hands-on activities and sharing of personal life encounters, we managed to engage with the students on a much deeper level. To me, this presented not only an invaluable opportunity to get to know them better, but also to leave a small impact on their lives—which I personally found most precious.
Conducting Life Lessons
In this third instalment, our team introduced our very first, originally developed Microsoft Excel Lessons Programme, which we subsequently conducted for the Grade 11 and 12 students. This was actually a special request made by the principal when Adeline and I met her during the recce trip. She cited how such Excel lessons would not only help them in their theses, but also give them that added edge in skills, enhancing their employability as they graduate from FNHS and move on to university or the working world.
Admittedly, executing these Excel lessons posed quite a challenge to us, since the students’ predominant language was Visayan, and teaching them in English was a slight obstacle. However, their willingness to learn made teaching smooth and enjoyable, and what we thought might be a dry lesson turned out to be an exciting one for them, instead!
Microsoft Excel Lessons Programme underway
Apart from our overseas project, Bike4Change has also carried out a variety of initiatives aimed at affecting change back home, within our local Singapore community:
Door-to-door cold calling
With the aim of engaging underprivileged youths from Beyond Social Services in Singapore, our team carried out a door-knocking initiative. Through this, we managed to establish a connection with many of our youth beneficiaries, forging new relationships.
Co-organising a 1-Day Boot Camp
Together with the beneficiaries from Beyond Social Services, we came together to co-organised a 1-Day Boot Camp. The aim of the camp was to empower these youths to have confidence in their planning and leadership, as well present them with bicycles to inculcate a sense of ownership. The Boot Camp involved ice-breaker activities, an Amazing Race game segment, and a 15km night cycling event. We had a thoroughly fun time bonding with the youth!
Presenting the bicycles to our local beneficiaries
Last but not least, together with the youths, we made a visit to the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) Nursing Home to engage with the elderly living there. We had two goals in mind for this activity—to instil a sense of community service in the youths, and to brighten up the lives of the elderly by taking them on trishaw rides around the neighbourhood. And for the wheelchair-bound elderly who did not have the physical strength to ride on trishaws, we had indoor activities planned out.
Elderly engagement in MWS
Trishaw event with MWS seniors
To say this entire OCSP has been a meaningful one, would be an understatement. I cannot begin to describe just how full my heart is. To have gained these invaluable opportunities to help both overseas and local communities through biking is an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything else. If there is one thing I’ve learnt, it is that our hearts can never be satisfied by material needs alone; and the joyful smiles that we witnessed from our beneficiaries as we interacted and spent time getting to know them, is proof of this. What delight it brings to give—more so than it is to receive!
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