BAP expands aid, starts new chapters

By Carolyn Williams


Bicycles Against Poverty (BAP) is one of the University’s most ambitious student organizations currently in operation.

Dick Muyambi ’12, a civil engineering and economics major from Uganda, was inspired to bring BAP to campus after his visit to Northern Uganda in summer 2007. Muyambi was struck by the need for bicycles he saw around him. When he returned to school he and his friends began laying the groundwork for what would become BAP, which officially became an organization in fall 2008.

“This summer we continued to expand to another two villages,” Muyambi said. “We are currently in five villages in Uganda.”

In the two years since BAP’s beginnings, the organization has grown significantly.

“During summer 2009, 102 bicycles were distributed to loan recipients. We currently have 290 bicycles in Uganda and an employee based in Gulu, Uganda,” Kevin Matthews ’11 said.

The club is planning its first-ever meeting with the Board of Trustees at the end of the month to discuss BAP’s long-term goals and objectives. BAP is currently in the process of becoming a 501-C3 non-profit organization.

“The goal is to obtain this within the academic year at the latest. Once we become a 501-C3 we can qualify for larger grants,” Matthews said.

The club also hopes to cultivate new chapters at other colleges. BAP is currently active at Skidmore College and Cornell University.

“We are trying to reach out to students interested in sustainable development, sustainable transportation to begin chapters are their colleges,” Muyambi said. “Up to now, most of the people who have began chapters I have known through other people. The students at Skidmore…actually came with us to Uganda this summer.”

BAP club members first traveled to Uganda in summer 2009.

“Traveling to Uganda last summer with BAP was a truly transformative experience. After fundraising and planning feverishly for over two years, carrying out the pilot project was more rewarding than anything any of us had ever done in our lives,” BAP member Nicole Meyers ’11 said. “Watching the recipients run up and hug each of us, screaming aloud with joy, made me realize that BAP is much larger than any extra-curricular club. It is an inspiring organization that is committed to the well-being of the dispossessed.”

BAP welcomes students to join their organization. The club meets most Wednesdays at 5 p.m. at Seventh Street House.

“We love it when new people turn out, and there is always plenty to do,” Matthews said.

Students interested in supporting BAP in other ways can purchase the merchandise the group sells in the Elaine Langone Center during lunch hours. For more information, students can visit or send a message through the Bicycles Against Poverty Facebook page.

BAP will hold the fourth annual Gulu Walk on Oct. 23.  The event raises awareness about children who are forced to walk many miles each night to avoid conscription into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda.

“Gulu Walk is meant to bring attention to child soldiers and night commuters in Uganda. Groups of children walked from insecure places to the city of Gulu for refuge in fear of being abducted to serve as child soldiers in the rebel group, LRA,” Muyambi said.  “I am hoping we can reach out to the wider community to inform them of how the communities in Uganda affected by more than 20 years of civil war still need help to get out of poverty. We hope to raise donations that will support both BAP work and Gulu walk in these communities.”

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