Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pedaling World Vision's Great Gift Catalog

Like many of us here in the U.S., I enjoy biking. I don't have to ride a bike; after all, I do have a car, and it's generally a faster way to travel. But like many, I bike for fun, and for exercise.

While in Southern Africa this summer, I was amazed at how many bicycles I saw in many places I traveled. In Lubumbashi, Congo, there seemed to be far more bikes on the road than cars. And it was obvious that these cyclists weren't doing it for health or pleasure. Many of the bicycles I saw were so loaded with commodities you could barely see the person who was walking along behind it and pushing it down the road! I quickly realized people were using bikes like trucks. They were an essential part of doing business, a commerce vehicle.

In developing countries such as the Congo, a bicycle can be as valuable as a car is here. It can make or break a business. It can mean the difference between having food in your stomach, or not. In many communities, it is the only way midwives or doctors or nurses can arrive quickly at the scene of an emergency.

While healthy, my bicycle habit is not cheap. Just to replace a wheel on my cyclocross bike can cost $300.

That's why this Christmas, rather than getting me a new wheel or the latest bike gadget, I'm going to recommend to my family that they purchase an entire bike through World Vision's Gift Catalog, where a gift of $210 will provide a sturdy, brand-new bike to someone who really and truly needs it -- for their livelihood, not just for exercise! -- in a developing country such as the Congo.

For those of us who "have everything," and have a hard time thinking of what to suggest when people ask us what we want, the Gift Catalog is the greatest thing! I am really enjoying thinking about how foregoing that new wheel will actually help get someone somewhere else in the world a whole new set of wheels, something that will really make a difference and change their life.

And it's also a great way to do last-minute shopping, all the way up until Christmas Eve.

For the next week or two, in this blog space, we're going to feature some cool stories from people who have discovered how the Gift Catalog revolutionizes their view of Christmas giving. Starting tomorrow! So stay tuned.

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