The Impact of Techbikers — Part II

Eze Vidra

“Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship” — Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

The other day I introduced the Inspiration for Techbikers — in this post I’d like to share the Impact with you.

Closing the circle — Nepal, May 2016

For the first time this year, I went to see the impact of Techbikers in Nepal.

I was joined by Michael and Marie, co-organizers of Techbikers over the past few years. My little brother also made the trip.

Nisha Kadaba, our friend and associate development manager for Room to Read, helped coordinate a visit to the Shree Chandrajyoti Secondary School in Nuwakot District, about two hours from Kathmandu. The school was almost completely destroyed in the earthquake and part of the Techbikers 2015 proceeds are being used to rebuild it.

In the bumpy ride from the capital, you see the landscape change drastically from the crowded and dirty (partly still due to the earthquake) city to the green, lush valley, filled with terraces and small villages scattered in the mountains. We arrived to an impressive, heart-warming welcome committee.

When we arrived the school kids were all lined up waiting for us. Many of them were holding flowers, and saying a shy “Namaste” as we walked and greeted them. It was an incredibly emotional moment.
It’s been almost a year since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal, but the aftermath is visible everywhere. You can find traces of the earthquake anywhere you look.
After one building completely collapsed and another remained with structural damage, this is how most classes are conducted in the school. I would also find it hard to concentrate like the girls in the back.
Many of the classes are conducted in TLCs (Temporary Learning Centres) that were set up by Unicef after the earthquake. They get too hot close to noon, so school starts at 6:30 am (which for some kids means a long walk in the dark). It’s hard to hear the teacher when it rains on the tin roof, and during the Monsoon season (now) it rains several hours a day for 3–4 months.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the only building that remained undamaged was the library constructed by Room to Read. That was the case for many of the RTR buildings in Nepal, as they’ve built with quality materials and are up to code regulation.
We attended a reading class in the library, with books provided by Room to Read, many of them original titles written in the local language about culturally appropriate themes.
The principal of the school and the head teacher, were extremely appreciative for the help of Room to Read and Techbikers. He said to pass our thanks to all the participants in the Techbikers rides, ride their bikes for hundreds of kilometres and collect money from their friends and family to help rebuild his school and others in Nepal.
Above all, we were inspired by the children.
We’ve visited English, Reading and Math classes and saw an eagerness to learn. Some of us take education for granted. But it really is a privilege.
As we share the belief that world change starts with educated children. Given the low number of female students that complete K12 education in Nepal, we’ve dedicated part of the proceeds of Techbikers in sponsoring scholarships for girls.
We enjoyed interacting with the kids, who were excited to ‘show off’ their reading skills. Admission to primary schools is very high till 3rd of 4th grade, and each year that passes, the percentage of attrition rises, particularly with girls.
We toured the whole school, including this ‘computer lab’ which consisted of 8 old PCs. It’s surprising how far the money can go in Nepal. You’ll be surprised to know that we can completely rebuild the school for $15,000 (with the help of the local community as are all Room to Read projects)
I understood, that while we may not eradicate poverty, or solve the problem of access to education on a global level, we are a part of the solution and we are making a difference in these kids life. The smiles on the kids faces, their eagerness to communicate and to learn, were something I’ll take with me
After classes were over, we allowed ourselves a bit of fun :-)
Did I mention we had fun?

I was filled with emotions of gratitude — to all the people that made this moment happen: the riders who participated in Techbikers, the corporate sponsors that believed in us and the hundreds (if not thousands) of donors who contributed to individual Techbiker’s fundraising campaigns since 2012.

More help is Needed

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark”
— Michelangelo

Room to Read reached 10 million children this year. We’re hoping to raise $1 million in funding for Room to Read this year. With the money we’ve raised since 2012, Room to Read have done the following:

**Techbikers Impact**:

  • 4 schools constructed in Nepal
  • 9 libraries established in India, Nepal, Cambodia, and Bangladesh
  • 10 Literacy Instruction programmes implemented in South Africa, Nepal, Cambodia, and Bangladesh
  • 50 teachers trained in South Africa
  • 300 girls supported through the Girls’ Education Programme in India
  • 1 school reconstruction in Nepal, post-earthquake (in progress)

Between 2012–2015, £230,000 was raised through the TechBikers campaign, these funds have impacted over 7,000 students across 5 countries! These figures are impressive — but now that I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the communities benefiting from the Room to Read efforts in Nepal, I know that it is the life-changing, human impact that is the most impressive. And this is why I will be riding with purpose from Paris to London on the 24th of June.

John Wood, founder of Room to Read articulates beautifully the importance of the cause and where Techbikers fit in this short video:

I genuinely appreciate your support. If you’re able to donate, every little bit helps:

All proceeds go directly to Room to Read.

Eze Vidra

Written by

Eze Vidra

Managing Partner at Remagine Ventures. Founder of Techbikers, Campus London and VC Cafe, proud Xoogler. Non exec director at Chargifi and UK Israel Business.

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