Seeing the compelling documentary Happy directed by Academy Award-nominated Roko Belic. What constitutes happiness? The film introduces you to some incredible, culturally diverse characters across 14 countries that explore that question and so much more...from the bayou in Louisiana to Denmark to the Bushmen in Namibia. This is one of the most important films I have ever had the pleasure of watching and I urge you all to check it out. It's more than a film; it's a movement.
Running into Dan Austin, the founder of 88 Bikes, at a coffee shop in town. I had sadly missed his "DIY in Action" symposium, but was aware of his project. It all started in 2006, when Dan arranged for 88 children in Cambodia to each get their own bike - and raised the money to make it happen in two weeks.
From the website: ...the organization gave 88 bikes to 88 kids at the Palm Tree Orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in January 2007. In January of 2008, 88bikes completed its second project with the Global Youth Partnership for Africa in Patongo, Uganda, donating 200 bikes to children at a refugee camp in this war-torn region of Northern Uganda. 88bikes has since added endowment locations in Uganda, Peru, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Ghana, Mongolia and Tanzania. In addition, 88bikes provides the kids with bike maintenance training, safety workshops, group bike rides, and bike-based job skills.
Talk about global impact on a grassroots level. Each individual donation is $88 - the approximate cost of a bike in most developing countries. This project is amazing on so many levels to me, but other than the obvious underprivileged-kids-gettings-bikes bit, my favorite thing about it is that all individual donations are used to purchase and assemble the bikes (which are purchased in-country) and for local transportation, so that means 100% of the donated money goes directly into the country's local economy.
In an email after meeting Dan, he said about 88bikes: "It's been a tremendous project that just continues to gain momentum. Nothing so uplifting as seeing a child happy, reconnecting with [his or] her abbreviated childhood."