By Tracy McNew
Local Rotarian, George Gerard thinks that Maya Pedal is an easy and important cause to support. Maya Pedal’s efforts to bring machines that ease manual labor, improve speed and productivity, and don’t require electricity have made a big impact in the country of Guatemala, and locals like Gerard have supported the effort’s success by simply donating old bicycles instead of taking them to the landfill.
Gerard said, “Maya Pedal helps to provide people with an income so they can make a living and send their kids to school. This lets them stay in their own country instead of searching for opportunities elsewhere.”
The local Rotary Club has been working to promote Maya Pedal for over a year now, and in July, local Rotarian Mick Shea chaperoned a group of high school volunteers to visit Maya Pedal. The volunteers spent three days constructing water filters to be distributed and used for purifying water in local communities near Maya Pedal’s location.
Nearly 200,000 Guatemalan families live without clean water, and the Rotary Club of Kootenai Valley also manages a grant to help provide self-sufficient water systems to communities there.
Another way locals have supported the cause is through donations of old bicycles. Last summer, 30 bicycles donated by locals were collected by Bad Medicine Bike Shop in Libby and subsequently shipped to Guatemala to be used as the basis for constructing Maya Pedal’s machines.
Between Libby, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and Missoula, nearly 400 of Montana’s old bicycles were shipped to Guatemala in 2017. They are now being made into a variety of life changing machines.
The machines do things like grind corn, coffee, or cocoa, make smoothies or tortillas, and pump water. They can be purchased affordably to help locals increase their productivity and fitness, and make more money to support their families.
Maya Pedal has been so successful that co-owner Veronica Buch Sequinajay, who also coordinates a group called Let Girls Lead was recently honored by the country of Guatemala for her work with young girls, and she has been invited to speak at the United Nations.
According to Dave Renfrow, spokesman for the support group Maya Pedal USA, “By the time people migrate to the boarder, we all lose. Maya pedal offers proven, effective and simple solutions.”
Renfrow is supporting the cause by hosting a Power The Pedal event in Whitefish on Friday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m.
The event will be held at the O’Shaughnessy Center and for $15 attendees will hear a speech by Buch Sequinajay, taste traditional Maya cuisine and get to test out the bicycle machines. For more information visit maya-pedal.org or contact Dave Renfrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo of Montana Rotary youth volunteers at Maya Pedal earlier this year courtesy of Mick Shea, Rotary Club of Kootenai Valley.