Sebouh Bazikian, a 17-year-old student from St. Francis High School in La Cañada, has launched Bikes 4 Orphans, a non-profit organization aimed at providing safer transportation for children in Kenya.
Bikes 4 Orphans was created by Bazikian as a response to the dangers children in Kenya face everyday. Many Kenyan children walk barefoot every day to school. The purpose of the project, Bikes 4 Orphans, is to provide bicycles to orphans in Kenya so they can have access to school and diminish the threat of contracting various diseases.
“We believe teenagers can make a difference in this world and this is our way of combining my passion for cycling with charity,” Bazikian stated.
He met with Dr. Carolyn Rowley, the director of Machao Orphanage in Makueni, Kenya and set a goal to provide the 43 orphans at Machao Orphanage with bikes. Bazikian had initially planned to raise $4300 through various fundraising events, but Bikes 4 Orphans collected $6300.
This proves that “teenagers are capable of making changes,” according to Bazikian.
Additionally, Bazikian made a trip to Kenya over the summer to meet the orphans who received the bikes and to gain firsthand experience of the children’s lives.
“The trip to Kenya was an utterly new experience. Yes, I had seen pictures of the orphanage I was helping out and yes, I had seen the dirty and dangerous streets, but actually going there and really getting a first-hand experience and having to worry about dying from disease or malnutrition was eye-opening for me!”
“[The bikes] were a big hit!” Bazikian exclaimed on his blog, “I witnessed first hand the effectiveness & power of bikes in third world countries. One even was able to travel far and visit an extended family member for the first time in two years.”
Bazikian is planning on continuing his project and branching out to other schools in the community to spread the cause. He’d also like to address other issues, such as the prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis B.
“I helped 43 Kenyan orphans get a bike – why not help 430 have the safer life they deserve?,” Bazikian said.