Melbourne, Australia

Marty in Namibia


Bicycles for Humanity (B4H) chapters worldwide inspire people to take action, to do something that will bring about positive change for others. For our Melbourne chapter, we ourselves are often inspired by the choice that individuals take to make a difference. And so, it is that occasionally someone steps up to do something rather special.

Marty Van Hoorn became an intrepid traveller in 2017, undertaking a journey to Namibia in search of satisfying his own curiosity about ‘Why’ B4H, does what we do, by visiting the communities we support, and to follow the journey of a bicycle filled container to Africa. Our own Gary Chan, caught up with Marty to gather some insight of the experience.



The Journey

Having experienced getting his hands dirty on the ground in Melbourne during numerous packing days, Marty sought more. He wanted a closer look into the B4H cause, and to see the inner workings within one of the many bicycle workshops (Enterprise Boxes) run from transported shipping containers, now established by our friends at the Bicycle Empowerment Network Namibia (BENN).

What better way to see the impact than in person, living life as a local in Namibia. As an advocate for education as empowerment, this journey was an opportunity to gain greater insight into the issues at hand and to better understand the areas where western society can help improve struggling communities. Excited to extend his journey from fareweller of bicycles in Melbourne, so started his journey to the small village of Outapi, in Northern Namibia.


Living Local

Staying within a guesthouse in town, with a bicycle of his own for transport, Marty was welcomed into the Outapi community by the Ekanjo Family. With a growing population, the Okathitu Bicycle Workshop, run by Hilya Ekanjo and her family, plays a vital part in keeping the community running. Or riding rather. Offering valuable repairs, efficient service and sales to those in need. Having experienced life with the family for nearly a month, it was clear to see their passion for the community, and dedication to helping others.

“In Outapi, I learned many things, and I think that the Ekanjo Family learned a little from me too. Some of the education was about bikes, and some was about communication and culture. I had comprehensively researched my visit before leaving, but the reality of being there and being invited into the lives of others was a great surprise.”

Day to day work within the workshop was much as expected, with English language broadly spoken across Namibia communication at home came a little easier than expected. When riding around town, basic greetings were met by waves and smiles. A favourite memory for Marty. However, where the national language, Oshivambo, was spoken by many utilising workshop services, a little assistance from others was required.

Outside the comfort of the family and work environment was a very different world to what one might be used to, and priorities are very different to western society. The greatest hurdle to overcome, being the cultural differences and poverty which proved confronting at times.

The poorest people live in tiny shacks made from small pieces of scrap tin, and people eat the most rudimentary gruel for sustenance. Yet many of the poorest find something to offer or to do, even for the lowest compensation imaginable. Namibia has a diverse cultural heritage with many different ways. I only really got to immerse myself into the Oshivambo community, but I am certain that each region of people have very unique ideas and customs that would best be observed to build relationships.”

What became clear to Marty was the scale of opportunities. He soon realised the provision of bicycles alone is not enough to sustain a community, it is the ongoing maintenance to keep working order that makes the real difference. Where the basic necessity of obtaining food is a priority, be it basic, the idea of forking out funds to repair bicycles and vehicles is last on one’s mind. The ability to provide sufficient tools, training and supplies to cover costs and continue supporting the community with economic opportunities is a vital goal.


Future Mechanics

His most positive experience was in witnessing bicycle donations lift community spirit. Just visit the weekend BMX club, hosted by the Okathitu Bicycle Workshop staff, and join 40 or so kids riding and racing on one of the many donated BMX’s over sandy ramps and berms, and you’ll see the playful energy and camaraderie of the community.

“On the last BMX day that I was there, the kids spent time playing a 3 string slide guitar that I made from a bicycle frame. Many fledgling rock stars, and more smiles. They loved having their photo taken too. I choose to believe that some of the kids from the BMX club will grow to become bicycle mechanics themselves, as well as continuing the ethic displayed by the Bicycles Empowerment Network Namibia.“


Returning Home

Like many who have undertaken a similar journey into impoverished communities, Marty returned with resounding encouragement for others considering sharing his experiences. After all, the main reason people travel is to explore a world which is different to what they are used to, and perhaps to come back with a better appreciation for what they have, and in turn what they can offer those less fortunate.

“When I returned I had a greater understanding that the grey areas of all societies are always larger and more unresolvable than the more obvious issues. I quickly learned that cultural differences are what they are because of how we are nurtured, not our nature. Things that seemed radical to me were just other people’s day to day experiences, and the other way around probably. My big picture is bigger now, but the ideology of fixing broken things is not quite as linear as I had initially imagined.”


After experiencing life in just one of the communities we support, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the scale of opportunities. Rather than stepping back and shrugging our shoulders to the bigger picture, we step forward and continue to chip away little by little to help where help is needed. Our future is not a linear road, it has never been that, the more involved and the more we grow, we continue to evolve to support wherever we are able.

“It would be wonderful to have extra BENN personnel in Namibia to assist the Bicycle Centres with their processes. Just like it would be great to have more tools and bikes, I guess that it is depended on the resources available. I believe that we can, as a partnership between B4H and BENN, continue into the future to do good work and enrich the lives of many people.”

The combined input from organisations such as the Bicycles Empowerment Network Namibia and the Intrepid Group, allows us to share resources and build an even stronger foundation to support and nurture growth and betterment in similar communities. With initiatives such as Bicycle Ambulance, and Bicycle Enterprise Support and Training Scheme (BEST) as run by BENN, we are able to reach further and impact future generations.

Click here to read all three instalments of our Interview with Marty.



The biggest opportunity for B4H going forward, is to build viable funds to support ongoing mentoring, coaching and financial support to empower communities to work with efficiency and perhaps further push cultural and socio-economic boundaries to allow for future planning.

As a non-profit, we rely on the generosity of those able. Be it financial, physical, or through the value of word of mouth – without a combination of these we could not grow. If you have something to offer, even simply words of encouragement, please contact us today.

Melbourne to Namibia 2018 Fundraising Challenge

2018 Fundraising Challenge

Ride a Bike for 110 kms. Raise funds to support our work.

Spread the message of social goodness and win prizes!!

Bicycles for Humanity’s major charity event for 2018  is back and we’re aiming even higher this year. We need your help to make it a success.

Rewards and prizes for each individual registration on achieving a minimum of $110 funds raised.

Prizes include:

  • Knog lock + entry draw to win a new bike

Top Fundraiser Prize:

Register to participate in this year’s fundraising challenge via our MyCause Event:


Like, Follow and Post the Challenge

Like our B4H Melbourne Facebook page to stay updated with the fundraising challenge.

Follow our B4H Melbourne Instagram account to see pictures from our latest events and challenges.

Post your Melbourne to Namibia cycling challenge pictures on Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #m2n2018


Join our Strava Club Event Bike Ride:

  • Ride 110km over the month on March – anytime, anywhere!
  • Raise $110, receive a Knog gift and go into the draw to win a bike
  • Be the top fundraiser and win an Intrepid Cycling trip to Bali (Inc flights from Aussie capital city)

All funds help send pre-loved bikes to change lives in African communities,
empowering disadvantaged people and communities where a little help, the simple access to a bicycle, brings about real change and opportunity.

Create your own personal or team challenge, either by distance or time to achieve the ride.

Join our B4H Melbourne Strava Club and post your rides!

Our Strava Club’s Latest Stats

Our Strava Club’s Latest Rides


Donate to B4H Melbourne

Help us get from Melbourne to Namibia by donating directly to the Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne Chapter now via your preferred method below:

1. Donate via Direct Bank Transfer


Name: Bicycles For Humanity, Melbourne, Australia
BSB: 033-029
Account: 155859
Bank: Westpac

2. Donate to the Melbourne Chapter via mycause





3. Donate via PayPal


Cycle Namibia Trip 2018

Reserve your spot for the upcoming Cycle Namibia Trip 2018 with Intrepid.

Limited places left and only $1 deposit to secure your spot needed by end March 2018.


*Conditions Apply

Cycle Namibia with Bicycles for Humanity

Once in a lifetime trip – Cycle Namibia 
19th August – 2nd September 2018
Limited Spots! 

With thanks to our friends at Intrepid Travel, we are excited to be launching our inaugural Namibian Cycling trip! We would love you to join us – see the incredible sights of this beautiful country as well as experience our work & your efforts first hand! Please visit the Intrepid Travel trip webpage for all the details on this spectacular event.

Want more info… join our Cycle Namibia info night!
Hear more about this amazing opportunity at our information evening:

6pm Thursday 5th October at the Intrepid Travel Office
(Level 7, 567 Collins St, Melbourne)

There will also be a free screening of the ‘Bikes for Africa’ documentary film.

Media Coverage of Bicycles for Humanity Collection Day in Ballarat

Event Promotion

ABC Ballarat’s promotion for the B4H day in Ballarat on 5th October 2017

Facebook video

The Courier Newspaper’s article promoting the B4H day in Ballarat on 5th October 2017

News Article

Event Coverage

Channel 9 News coverage of  the B4H day in Ballarat on 5th October 2017

Facebook video

ABC Ballarat’s coverage of the B4H day in Ballarat on 5th October 2017

News Article

Bicycles for Humanity in Ballarat

B4H in Ballarat – join the festivities 5th October! 

Bicycles for Humanity, Melbourne will be in Ballarat during the school holidays.

Thanks to the local ABC radio crew and the awesome Ballarat Community members for your support.

Come down, have a chat, donate your pre loved adult bike and enjoy the activities!

When: 5th October 9am – 3pm

Where: St Patrick’s Cathedral Carpark
3 Lyons St South, Ballarat

The Katima Bike Shop, Namibia

The Katima.  Hard Working Men’s Club, Bike Shop was established in 2011 with a container of bikes from the Melbourne chapter of Bicycles For Humanity. This BEC was fully funded by the effort of Hap Cameron and Mandy who then rode hundreds of kms to rendezvous with the container and help with the training and implementation process. This story has been documented in the film Bikes For Africa.

One of the huge achievements of BEN Namibia over the last few years has been getting over 30 bike shops online – The Katima shop has a Face Book page which you can follow.

Chibobo Bike Workshop, Zambia

Our second container of bikes was being implemented as a BEC ( Bicycle Empowerment Centre) in the small village of Chibobo in Zambia. There it  supports the Chibobo orphanage.You can learn more about the orphanage at the Help Ministiries web site.

The Chibobo BEC project started mid 2009 when B4H Melbourne was contacted by Warren Mills of the Mechanics For Chibobo/Serenje. The Mechanics continue to work to develop an automotive workshop in Chibobo and the nearby larger town of Serenje. These workshops are planned around a similar model as the BEC with locals trained and employed in what will become an economically stimulating, micro-financed small business providing training, employment and economic opportunities for the community.

On meeting with Warren Mills and Phil Stacey there was a clear fit between the organisations. The BEC has been established in Chibobo to support the orphange with the training in bicycles mechanics indicating which of the trainees will be suited to the more complex automotive training as the larger project develops.

Our partner Bicycle Empowerment Network Namibia was looking to expand in to Zambia so it was very timely.

Bicycle collection began and the container filled with around 380 bikes and extensive engineering equipment shipped to Zambia mid 2010. The container also included a gantry hand winching system for  getting the 40ft conatiner off the back of the truck once it reached remote Chibobo.

Both Phil from the Mechanics and Ylva Carosone from B4H Melbourne were in Chibobo in September  2009 for the containers modification and implementation.

The project has been a great success. The initial revenue generated from the Bike Workshop allowed the orphanage to plant 14 hectares of maize – enough to feed 150 people for a year. So much in fact that they were able to sell the excess at a further profit – a great result over and beyond the benefit of the bicycles in the community.

Watch a  short excerpt from Bike For Africa with Hap Cameron visiting Chibobo and seeing the results of the project here.

The Kaoko Bike Shop – Opuwo, Namibia

Our first container of bikes left for Namibia in June 2009. It is now an  extremely successful bike work shop in the town of Opowu in northern Namibia. Implemented with the help of BEN Nambia as a Bicycle Empowerment Centre the workshop has provided much of the local community with bikes which have changed their day to day lives.  The income from the workshop is supporting the orphan program run by The Red Cross.

The container has now been modified – given an extra roof, doors and a concrete pad outside. Local particpants are trained as bike mechanics and also educated in business and entrepeneurial skills. The BEC is established as a self sustaining business that can contuinue to benefit the community well into the future. The Kaoko BEC has been a successful venture from its launch. It provides vital services and bikes to the local community and employs 4 mechanics who’s lives have been completely changed by their involvement in the project. Meet The Team below.

Rauna 38 y.o., 1 year old child. Her allowance as a Red Cross volunteer was N$200 per month, she now earns N$700 per month. Rauna has already bought a bicycle for her child, and the main difference the extra income makes for her is being able to buy more food each month.


Michael 26 y.o., main guardian for his niece, was working as a pastor before the BEC and earning a variable amount, averaging around what he earns through the BEC, but was travelling 2-3 weeks per month, and as guardian of his niece was not able to provide her enough attention. Now earns N$700 per month. Michael having a more structured work and family life


Johannes 22 y.o., no kids, was working as a casual shelf stacker at a local supermarket, earning N$90 per shift, sometimes only getting 3 or 4 shifts per month. Now earns N$700. Johannes describes his life before the project as an endless struggle, in which he frequently had to borrow money to pay his rent and buy food, and is glad he no longer has to do this.


Simpson 20 y.o., no kids. Was not working previously, now earns N$400 per month as the apprentice mechanic (Simpson did not participate in BEN Namibia’s training). Simpson has only completed grade 8, and as such his employment prospects were bleak, but his passion for bicycle repair won him a place on the team.

You can follow them on FaceBook  at