195. How This Young African Philanthropist is Fighting Poverty Through Cycling in his Country of SIERRA LEONE | STYLISH aka Abdul Karim Kamara
In this episode, you will learn about: How a young man can change so many lives in the African Country of Sierra Leone. Abdul Karim Kamara AKA Stylish has impacted so many people's lives through cycling, creating one of the largest cycling events in Western Africa - Tour of Lunsar, his cycling team and impacting the lives with programs to help kids get to school and women ride bikes.
He is one incredible human!
Stylish" is his nickname, he's 29- years-old born in Kabala northern part of Sierra Leone.
Presently leaving in Lunsar where he works for the Village Bicycle Project and runs the Tour de Lunsar which is one of the biggest cycling races in west Africa.
Stylish was born an organizer in one of the least-organized places you've ever seen.
Three years back he won the country's Young Philanthropist of the Year award – a recognition of his work over the last six years, running a feeding programme in Lunsar every August when the constant torrential rain makes it impossible to harvest crops and a lot of people in Sierra Leone go hungry
Last year the program provided meals for 1,000 neighbourhood kids, making them attend maths and English lessons in exchange for a meal
. His income is as a country manager for Village Bicycle Project
(VBP) – a US-based charity that focuses on sustainable bicycle transportation in Africa. I deliver workshops all around the country, teaching people – particularly women and girls – how to ride bikes.
WORLD BIKE RELIEF
Traditionally, women aren't taught how to ride
because of nonsensical ideas about being able to lose your virginity from sitting on a bike saddle. To these young women, most of whom balance school with family duties, the bicycle can deliver a level of freedom and mobility that's otherwise inaccessible. His biggest passion project, is his racing team, Lunsar Cycling Team
and Tour de Lunsar. The club has around 40 members, the largest of any club in Sierra Leone, and a thriving women's team – something almost entirely missing from other clubs in the country. Many of the riders – the majority of whom are in their late-teens – work for him in my bike shop, with the small amount they earn going towards supporting their families.
He always covers the costs of training out of my own pocket, supplying riders with racing bikes at knock-down prices, as well as providing meals for them after training sessions. Every year, he put on a bike race around Lunsar – the "Tour de Lunsar" – which attracts thousands of spectators. For last year the top prize is LE, 15,000,000 ($1500), which he secures through sponsorship from Science In Sport (SIS) which is one of the biggest sport nutrition companies in the world. It's been a long journey to this point. My passion for bikes started when, as a young boy, my mother got me an apprenticeship to a bike mechanic in the same compound I called home in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.
As a teenager, he moved out of the city and opened a small shop in Lunsar, where he fixed people's bicycles. In 2013 he met American David Peckham, who was riding around the country, exploring Sierra Leone, searching out local mechanics and selling them bicycle tools. So far this is how it all started.