Pikilily is on the hunt for investors

Things have progressed really well this year, which has been fantastic, but there is so much more we need to do for next year.  Short term, in order to fund our motorcycle ambulance pilot for its full 12 months of operation, we need to find $20,000 but further out, we are looking for investors to work with and help us grow the scale and impact of Pikilily across Tanzania and beyond.  If you can introduce us to any impact investors, foundations or other bodies who may be interested, please let us know and we can make the business pack available. Many thanks!

2017 in review - what a year!

Things have progressed massively this year at the Pikilily workshop, far more than we could have ever expected, which is hugely encouraging.

Here’s how things have evolved over the four seasons of the year (if you’re in the northern hemisphere that is –the same rules don’t strictly apply here!).  I’ve skipped over the desperately dull but numerous bureaucratic hoops we’ve jumped through this year but believe me, it’s been full on!

Spring – the workshop build is completed and we buy our first tools.  Mechanics Juma and Kipara join the team and Selina is brought in to manage our reception/gate-keeping area.  Claire travels to Mali on our first piece of corporate work, training around 200 workers in life-saving motorcycle safety and maintenance skills.  Claire is also invited to speak at the PINC conference in NL about our work, a fantastic event!  In the school half-term, we are invited to train a group of school kids on how to stay safe as a motorcycle passenger – great fun and a great success!

Summer – we take delivery of the two motorcycle ambulances.  Juma and Kipara begin the extensive cleaning, renovation and assessment work to ascertain what parts can be salvaged and what must be replaced.  We hire 5 amazing female apprentices, who start training to become motorcycle ambulance riders.  Claire and Khalid travel to UK to present at HUBB UK and further fuel interest in our work.  Tool Aid in Ringwood, UK, kindly donate a substantial volume of renovated, pre-loved tools for the Pikilily workshop, which (with no small effort), Claire and Khalid manage to cram into their return hold luggage allowance for safe arrival back into Mwanza.  Later, our first two official Pikilily volunteers, Ellie and Monty, join us over the summer to focus in on social media coverage and bodaboda support.  Pikilily is generously awarded a grant from WIMA/MoR to help us fund our motorcycle ambulance training and renovation work. 

Autumn – Claire travels again on corporate training work, this time to train over 600 community members (men, women and children) in the DRC in motorcycle maintenance, repair and passenger safety.  The spare parts arrive for the eRangers, kindly gifted by the eRanger company in SA.  The apprentices continue their training, learning to maintain as well as ride a simple motorcycle and receive their riding licences.  Pikilily is granted a strategic partnership with VETA, the Tanzanian government’s vocational educational college, to train riders in essential riding skills, in particular women, so that they are ready for certification at VETA – the first organisation to be granted this.  The apprentices, keen to learn as much as possible, volunteer to collect much needed data on the habits of local moto-taxis drivers including wearing helmets (a legal requirement here), using their mobile phone while driving, riding with more than one passenger etc – a vital task considering that the hospital “motorcycle crash” wards here are full of broken bodies but a formal analysis on what is happening pre-crash doesn’t exist.  On the motorcycle ambulance service side, we commence talks with the Cedar Foundation, who have just constructed a brand new, much needed Health Centre in Nyamatongo ward, Sengerema District, to see about basing our ambulance service there.  Pikilily receives multiple indications of interest from other organisations and NGOs who are keen to collaborate to refurbish the dilapidated motorcycle ambulances in their area and train up female riders/mechanics.

Winter – the apprentices continue with their training, now taking 24 hours of self-defence training from Zachary Ouko, Africa’s national martial arts champion as well as an intensive first aid course, courtesy of Chris Buege’s MakeSafe International.  Through kind contacts at MakeSafe and Kibo in Kenya, the apprentices are donated 5 brand new, high quality motorcycle helmets.  Claire travels again on corporate work, this time to the Ivory Coast, to train over 200 workers and community members in motorcycle maintenance and road safety.  Furthermore, Pikilily is approached by numerous local motorcycle taxi drivers seeking urgent riding licences, as President Magufuli’s campaign of reducing corruption and ensuring the right standards by every actor in the country now reaches the largely unlicenced and untrained bodabodas.  Seeing that this represents an incredible one time opportunity to not only licence but also raise standards and awareness in all levels of motorcycle maintenance and road safety, we meet with the Regional Traffic Officer to propose that Pikilily should host mass training events at cost price for the bodas of Mwanza in collaboration with the road authorities, at the end of which attendees reaching the desired standard will receive a licence.  The RTO is very enthusiastic about this prospect and advises us that we will be inundated with attendees.  Lastly, Claire travelled to Sarasota, Florida, to speak at the PINC conference there – link coming soon!

Suffice to say, none of this could have been possible without every member of the Pikilily team as well as the incredible support and generosity of so many individuals, organisations and companies all over the world.  Thank you all and here's to 2018!

Pikilily Workshop Update (2 minute read)

Pikilily Workshop Update – 2 minute read

The last few months at Pikilily has seen the project grow in amazing ways.  The finishing touches on the workshop build were completed in March, which coincided with the hiring of our first two female apprentices. Sipe and Beatrice were both keen to become fully fledged motorcycle ambulance drivers and serve their community by riding out to bring rural labouring mothers from their homes for safe birth in hospital.  The journey wasn’t easy though, as neither had ridden a motorcycle before.  Sipe in particular had never even tried out a bicycle, so of course acclimatising to the concept and feeling of balancing on two wheels while also getting to grips with clutch and throttle control was a big challenge for her, but her persistence was really inspiring and I’m happy to share with you that she is now a competent and confident rider.  (She’s pretty chuffed with herself too).

Two wheels haven’t been the only challenge though, as Sipe also initially expressed reticence about wearing trousers to ride in, as she has always worn skirts and felt a little exposed and manly in trousers.  We had originally designed some kitenge (African patterned fabric) dungarees to ride in, but after listening to Sipe’s concern, together we came up with a “skirtaree” instead, which is basically a dungaree with a knee length, wraparound skirt sewn over the top, allowing our riders to maintain decency while also combining that with practicality and safety.  Sipe feels happy wearing them and stays safe riding too!  Though Sipe has already been spending time in the workshop shadowing our mechanics, the next stage of the training will be formal maintenance tuition and first aid, starting very soon.

 On the actual motorcycle ambulance refurbishment, our two mechanics, Juma and Kipara, have been working hard renovating the parts that were sensibly salvageable and making up lists of those items which simply needed to be replaced.  In some instances, we’ve been able to employ individuals from the local community to fabricate new items, such as the canvass hood, pillow and mattress covers, but in other cases its been essential to source new items such as mechanical consumables straight from the eRanger factory.  We’ve been extremely grateful to the team there in South Africa for providing those spare parts to us at zero cost and now, subject to final approval for exemption from the Tanzanian Tax Office, they’ll soon be able to DHL them up here without us incurring a huge import tax bill.  Good progress and subject to the above, we hope to have the bikes ready for the next stage of rider training within just a few weeks!

In addition, we were also invited into the local schools during the half term break to teach the kids how to stay safe while riding a motorcycle as a passenger.  Many of the kids do this every day as an affordable and effective way of commuting to school but of course, this practice isn’t without its hazards.   Naturally, we were delighted to come in and train them in how to spot a safe driver and a roadworthy bike, why helmets matter and how you can behave while riding the bike to make sure you have a safe journey.  The lessons were great fun and best of all, we’ve subsequently had plenty of interest from the parents, who have now heard all about the training from their kids, had no idea that staying safe on a motorcycle wasn’t just “pot luck” and want to have the knowledge too!  We are keen to roll out this schools education programme across Mwanza and plan to start this in the second half of this year.

Otherwise, the other big and interesting development was being asked to travel to Mali in April this year to train mine workers at a big, FTSE 100 gold mine in motorcycle maintenance and road safety. There are roughly 3000 workers at the site with a large proportion riding motorcycles.  Only a handful of these riders actually had licenses or had ever received any kind of formal training before, so it was really interesting for both them and me to have a chance to share the keys of maintenance and road safety with them over the course of a week.  The feedback was overwhelmingly positive so I’m really excited to be heading off to the DR Congo very soon to roll out the training there at another of the company’s mine sites. 

As you can see, there’s plenty keeping us busy with all these activities as well as local groups and businesses also requesting bespoke training for their riders from our base at the workshop.  Its wonderful seeing things taking shape so fast, fuelled by our dynamic and brilliant volunteers, Ellie and Monty, who are with us for the summer.

If you would like to help support our work, you can do so in 3 main ways:

Firstly, we always appreciate donations.  To do that, just click through onto the paypal links on our website

Secondly, stay in touch and help us spread the word by following us on Twitter or Instagram with the handle@pikilily_tz or through Facebook at www.facebook.com/pikilily or reply to this newsletter to find out more about joining our growing band of Pikilily Ambassadors around the world

Thirdly, volunteer to share your skills or experience here at the workshop in Tanzania or even remotely from home.   There’s a wide range of skills and roles we would love help with, so again, just get in touch if you would like to hear more.

Thanks and all the best from Mwanza!

Claire and the team.