Among this year’s “symbolic gifts” offered by Mercy Corps is a bicycle. While donating does not mean you literally buy a bike for someone (the gifts are examples of the type of work Mercy Corps does, according to the website), the organization—based in Oregon and Washington—seems to be tapping into the idea of bicycles as tools for global aid (see also: World Bicycle Relief).
From Mercy Corps Seattle:
I don’t have to explain what a bike means to you and the tens of thousands of other cyclists in Seattle.
But it can mean even more to someone in a developing country. The seemingly simple bike can become a locally sustainable method of alleviating poverty and building healthy communities. In places like the cramped villages on northeastern India’s tea estates, a bicycle helps speed its rider — a student, an entrepreneur, an apprentice — closer to where they want to be. Unfortunately, in these communities where people make only a few hundred dollars a year, a bicycle is financially out of reach.
As a fellow bike enthusiast, I thought you might want to know that one of the Mercy Corps Gifts we’re offering this holiday season is the Gift of a Bicycle. This is just one of our 57 symbolic gifts that inspire the recipient and help families in need around the world.
In so many places, a bike is more than recreation — it’s a chance for a better future. Mercy Corps bridges the gap by providing small loans or grants that help people purchase bicycles that get them on the road to (a better) tomorrow. With two wheels as a means of transportation, people are able to gain the valuable job training skills, attend school, or bike to the market.