Pikilily, co-founded in 2016 in Mwanza by Claire Elsdon and Khalid Maagi in response to the devastatingly high crash rate amongst bodabodas (motorcycle taxi drivers) and the tragic consequences for families and communities across Africa. Claire had experience in training microfinance workers in Malawi as well as mobile midwives in Southern Tanzania how to carry out maintenance and why it was so important to keep a roadworthy, safe motorcycle. During these experiences Claire repeatedly observed that while maintenance was an essential ingredient, a holistic approach including road safety training and quality helmet usage was what was needed to bring about real change.
Originally the plan was simply to carry out training services for local riders in essential motorcycle maintenance as well as road safety, plus when capital allowed, also to source and sell quality helmets at an affordable price. However, once the workshop was established, Claire was approached by the Medical Officer from a neighbouring District to help with two broken down eRanger motorcycle ambulances that were no longer running. This left a serious gap in his community, an issue we see repeated across Tanzania. For example typically each day, 24 Tanzanian mothers die in pregnancy and childbirth through preventable causes with a lack of reliable transportation to hospital being cited as a major reason. So, she agreed to not only refurbish the bikes but also to train five local women in all aspects of riding and maintaining the eRangers along with first aid and self defence skills, enabling us to start a sustainable, low cost and high impact twelve month pilot project primarily to bring mothers struggling in childbirth to the district hospital for life-saving care.
Ultimately, there are 400 such eRangers lying in a state of disrepair across the country: Pikilily's mission is to find all 400 and bring them back into service so that no-one is left behind.
It's this enterprise that I am blogging about and hope to raise awareness and keep the project going as well as visiting Mwanza at the end of May 2018.