Robert Shea is one incredible guy (from right here in NorCal no less), and he has embarked on one incredible journey - to improve the lives and ease the burden of South African children living in the townships with HIV and AIDS. As Robert's wife puts it so clearly: "Being poor is bad - being poor and ill is worse - being poor with HIV is really unpleasant." So through their own nonprofit, "Our Fertile Ground", they provide supportive community environments where HIV-positive kids can thrive. They've been operating free residential and day camps on rented land for years, and their ultimate goal is to purchase a piece of property near Cape Town where they will set up a permanent camp for the youth programs. It's the kind of selfless energy and generosity that truly inspires, and when Robert reached out to us for bikes for the camp kids to raise money by riding the Cape Argus, we agreed immediately. Cape Argus is the largest timed cycling event in the world, and the project is currently seeking financial sponsors for their riders to help fund the purchase of the new camp land.
Our first donation was 5 bikes, but by their gratitude, you'd have thought we gave them 500. They've since recruited another 5 riders, so our partners in Botswana are sorting out how to get 5 more bikes down to Cape Town.
Once their new permanent camp is secured, Robert intends to open a Mike's Bikes Sister Shop where the kids will learn valuable skills like entrepreneurship, accounting, customer service, and bike mechanics - training that is completely unavailable from their schools and their family situations. The proceeds of the Sister Shop will provide jobs and fulfillment for the kids, and will benefit the greater Fertile Ground camp project. It's an interesting twist on the Sister Shop program, and one that we're very excited about.
We're proud to be partnering with Robert and his family and his organization, and we hope to report soon on the establishment of this new Sister Shop in South Africa.
Check out these videos for more information: