About ‘Bicycle Angels’


Bicycle Angels

(Founded Sept 2013.)

1) @ wordpress: https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/
2) @ facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/

Bicycle Angels – Because it’s we privileged, and some unprivileged too, who can be there for others, those even-lesser/far-lesser privileged than us.

My thoughts behind Bicycle Angels:

This informal FB group (IT IS NOT A N.G.O.) provides ‘livelihood’ (Roadster) bicycles, (or even regular (mtb/hybrid/road bicycles), old and/or new, to those vendors or unprivileged people, who need a desi/roadster/ghodha bicycle to earn a livelihood, to use as a vendor of food FMCG commodities like coconuts, tea, newspapers, milk, idli, fruits, a knife sharpener, flowers, or if he or she is a plumber or electrician etc who uses one to carry his tool box etc, using the bicycle as a mode of transportation and for carrying/selling his/her goods; and sometimes to those less privileged people who need one for transportation to save on public transportation costs.

Depending on how they come cross to me when I interview them, I make them contribute at least Rs 1000 to a minimum of Rs 500 for the donated bike. Of course, if I feel they are very poor and deserving then they need not donate anything in exchange of a new bike.
Sometimes I offer to pay half the cost of a new bike, and offer then Rs 500 for their old bike.

And I take their old bike from them and donate that to some needy person, and sometimes make the receiver pay a donation of Rs 100 to 500 for the bike. Then this donated amount I receive from the recipient of the old bike I add to our kitty to buy a new bike.
We also provide Wheelchairs for those physically or mentally challenged.

– Rakesh

November 14, 2013 and Jan 7, 2014.
I MUST mention here, so far, none of my acquaintances or friends who donated money for a bike have asked me for Purchase Invoices of the new bikes I have purchased on their behalf so far; however, whether they want the Invoice or not, whether they like it or not, they will receive a scan or photographed copy via email or their FB inbox or via whtsapp etc! Period! No discussions/arguments on this; The clearest glass, the clearest Diamonds, are always crystal clear, and hence desired and beautiful.

Further, donors can ask me for the phone number of the recipient they donated a bike to, that’s if that recipient has a phone number or even permanent address, as some of them just too poor and don’t even have an ID!

In addition, I cannot guarantee how the recipients will put the donated bike to use, I just don’t have the infrastructure nor time to follow up on them post them receiving the donated bike, I just somehow have to go by my first instinct and faith in their need. Please do ask for their phone numbers or address if you wana speak or meet them for whatever reason, and if I can provide you the same, I shall most happily.

If you are Mumbai based, it would be nice to have you present when the bike is paid for to the cycle shop, or when the bike is handed over the recipient. You welcome to be present, as it will make your donation more personal for the recipient, I think.
I also send the audio file of my conversation with the recipients to the donors of their bicycle only, I began doing this after I was interviewed by Dubai One Tv in Febuary 2014; I realized the importance of having a proof of my conversations with the recipients.

– Rakesh.
The incident that in a way began this initiative:

Today I was truly humbled!
On my ride on carter road this evening, I stopped to talk to a stranger, (Susheel, he later told me his name was), he must be about 22/25, selling tea coffee. I asked him if he would like to own a used bike (bhaiyya/ghoda/desi bike) to carry the tea coffee he sells to people on carter road.
He asked me, ‘Why?’

I said I have a pal who gave me little money to buy one used bike for anyone who needs one (initially, we had decided we will buy a bicycle to donate to a child who needs one to travel to school). I asked him how much will he need to buy a used bike for his trade. (To begin with, I had messaged more than a dozen close friends asking them to donate Rs 100 each so that we can buy a cycle costing Rs 3300 for a girl child who needs one to travel to school in some village.)
Susheel replied, an old used bicycle costs about minimum rs 600 and max 800, depending on the bikes condition. (I later realized a good condition old bicycle costs anything between 1200 to 2500, and many are stolen bikes, so I got discouraged to buy old bicycles for donation purpose.)

I told Susheel, my pals will pay for the cycle if he can show me the old bike he needs to buy for his trade purpose.
Susheel suddenly stooped down to touch my feet! For rs 600!!!, which was not even my money, but a collection from my caring friends! Because I had told him some pals gave it to me to do some good on their behalf.

I realized then, how much value even rs 600 has!!! How much value a roadster/bhaiyya/desi/ghoda really bike has!; a bike which we do not even give a second look when we ride our expensive bikes!)
Such a great value it has, that a proud man, as he chose not to beg but walk selling tea coffee, is willing to touch another man’s feet in gratitude!!!

I turned my head least he see a man twice his age cry.
This incident, I think, may have been one of the many reasons why we eventually gradually organically founded: Bicycle Angels – Donate a livelihood bicycle https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/

In retrospect, I think maybe this was when I realized that we rather donate a bicycle (a roadster) to a person who needs one for his/her livelihood, or to better it, or to use it as a vehicle of transportation for himself/herself, then donate a bicycle to a child who needs one to travel to school, because the adult can feed his entire family with the help of such a bicycle.

So that’s how it all started, I think, when I had first decided to buy a new bike for a school going underprivileged child.

– rakesh anand bakshi.

My tribute to the most beautiful ‘livelihood’ bicycles:
English – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOMR2GezeAE
Hindi – ‘Saari duniya ka boj hum uthate hain.’

My blog on cyclists:
@ Beautiful Bicycles Beautiful People.
Many fine people message me seeking to contribute their kindness to this effort, this initiative, (THIS IS NOT AN NGO) and naturally one common query they ask me is – ….’and how much can I, should I contribute….’

I realize now it gets quite tiring expressing the same thoughts (replies) again and again. So I decided to prepare a kind of standard response I would normally give my pals when asked this legitimate question.

Peeps. there can never be a specific answer to that from me. However, I have attempted here a standard/general response I have always given, actually its simply maybe my philosophy or reasoning behind this humble and small and personal initiative, about how I go about this effort, and I hope it can sustain as my response to many sincere queries I receive from even my closest pals and family:

An old used bike in good (I mean, donate-able-condition, because even the poor deserve a dignified gift) costs anything between 1500 to 2200. But its very hard finding old bikes on sale and no one selling one offers a bill or receipt for what you pay for them. Further many old bikes on sale are stolen ones, or desperate sale, because why would a man riding one for a livelihood sell his mode of transportation, or if they upgrading to a new bike, which is so rare.

Also, buying a new one comes with a purchase receipt, gives legitimacy to the purchase and thus initiative too. Anyone who donates money for one, ideally should receive an authentic bill of money paid.

And a brand new Hercules that can carry very large quantity of weight costs between 4200 to 4700, depending on the nature of goods carried by the vendor.

The advantage of buying a new bike for donation is, when we donate a new bike to a vendor who gives us in exchange his old used fairly-good-condition bike, we further donate his old bike to another vendor who does not have a bike and needs one. So the expense of buying a new bike (anything between 4200 to 4700) gets divided into two donations – one being the new bike, and the other being the old used bike we receive in exchange of donating the new one.

However, you do not have to donate the entire amount required to buy a new bike; say, even if you donate Rs 100, we will simply add it to the kitty, add it to what others have and will donate in future, and when it amounts to Rs 4200 pr 4700, we will buy a new bike, and credit the donation of that to all those people who contributed in helping us reach the figure of 4200 to 4700, even if that takes us a month or more to achieve.

Though I am always asked this question, I never ask any donor to contribute any specific amount, as that would defeat the very purpose of charity, kill the essence of donation. It is up to you, a donor, to offer any quantity of your kindness, and its my duty to graciously accept it with the same respect I would accord to someone donating the entire amount required to buy a new bike.

Hmmmmm, one thought I did have once was, if you go around your immediate circle of family and friends, and collect 4200 to 4700, the cost of one new bike, this new bike and the old one that will subsequently come with it in exchange from the recipient of the new one, both will be donated and credited to your entire group of donors (friends or family) you gathered/pooled the donation from. So it becomes like a personal donation from one set of friends or family, and I think that would feel so cool that a close group of friends or family become associated with two complete donations, responsible to help two sets of families earn their livelihood much better.
But I understand it will be a real headache to gather support in something you alone may believe.

I leave you with these thoughts, random ponderings of mine, to help you make your decision. Whatever it be, it will be embraced.

Most importantly, if you Bombay based, please try to be present when the new or old bike is purchased from a cycle shop in Bandra west, (of course provided they offer us a discount; and their bill I send to the donor via mms or via an email) or when the bike is donated. That would add much value to your kindness.
Feb/Mar 2014.

On TV: Peeta Planet Social Travel Series’ (Dubai One Tv) ; Mumbai Episode of Bicycle Angels: telecast from Dubai in May 2014.

A tribute for Bicycle Angels and it’s donors in the Mumbai Mirror, in May 2014.

A tribute for Bicycle Angels and it’s donors in the SUNDAY BUSINESS STANDARD. July 27th 2014.
A compliment for the livelihood bicycle:

This morning, I received a beautiful mail, which for me is the most profoundly-beautiful insight and compliment given to ‘livelihood’ bicycles; it was from a cyclist, named Prasad, a complete stranger to me. However, I believe Prasad is not a stranger to empathy and compassion:

Hi Rakesh!
Just wanted to tell you how much i was touched by your little video on youtube about the most beautiful bicycles.
I was expecting hi-funda cycles made of carbon fibre, foldable, etc, but what you showed was simply awesome. I’ve always dreamt of buying a Brompton one day, but today i’ve realized that it means nothing. Thank you for helping me realize it.
(Prasad Dietrich-Wielenga)


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