Singapore – NTU graduate Mike Than Tun Win, through his initiative called LessWalk, has successfully delivered the first batch of bicycles to Myanmar in hopes of making education more accessible to students.
On March 1, 2019, Mike shared his idea on Facebook which consisted of purchasing bicycles that bike-sharing companies had no more use for, refurbishing them and then sending them to Myanmar so that students who walked two km to school each day would have a better mode of transportation.
Read more about Mike’s initiative here: Student with a big heart
On June 1, 10,000 brand new bikes arrived in Myanmar and work was started on replacing the bike-share locks with an extra seat at the back.
About three weeks later, on June 19 (Wednesday), Lesswalk.org’s Facebook page posted an update informing everyone that they have started handing out the bicycles to the deserving students.
Despite heavy rain, 205 bicycles were loaded, transported, and disseminated to two government schools and two orphanages.
“The benefiting (sic) students some walk up to almost 2 hours from the village to school. Back and forth, they spend more than 4 hours travelling. Most students walk an average of 1-1.5 hours. It is saddening to see many students in the more rural area have challenging family situation, (sic) coming from single-parent families or losing both parents at a young age,” said the update.
Among the smiling faces receiving the gifts was Thae Su Wai, 11, who told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that she will no longer have to walk 10 km for two hours to school and back each day.
“I will have more time to study and play with friends,” she said as she excitedly tried out her new bicycle at the Nhaw Kone Village school near Yangon.
Each bicycle cost Mike about US$35 (S$47), which included logistics, reported The Straits Times.
Mike shouldered half of the amount and acquired sponsors for the rest.
Aside from Yangon, Mike plans to send bicycles in the Mandalay and Sagaing regions towards the end of June.
He is hopeful that the 10,000 bicycles is just a start and aims to multiply that by 10 in five years.
“They might not be worth anything in Singapore, but they are valuable in a poorer country,” he told AFP.
Lesswalk.org is serving a great cause because of the ambition and dedication the students possess.
“Almost every student we came up to when we asked ‘What’s the best way to change your life?’ Their answers were instant and simple, ‘Education!'” read the post.
“Some students want to be teacher, engineer, doctor, and even President of Myanmar. We wish them all the best in their pursuit of dreams!” (sic)