The invention of Bicycles in the 19th Century could be considered one of greatest inventions so far. To date it remains the only human powered mode of transport for billions of people around the world. In the North and East of Sri Lanka it remains the most preferred mode of transport for majority of the people. The bicycle serves multiple purposes. The bicycle is durable and affordable. Most importantly, it does not use any fuel and therefore is not a pollutant. Cycling is also a healthy form of exercise and people who cycle receive their daily exercise without having to make any extra effort.
Bicycle is used by both women and men of all ages including school going children in Batticaloa to attend to their daily needs. It’s a common and a beautiful sight to see men, women and children cycling through the streets of Batticaloa, to the schools, the hospitals and many other places of work, through the surrounding villages and the green paddy fields etc. Special bicycle parks are also a common sight at hospitals, railway station, schools and cinemas. Although the modern scooty and motor cycles have taken precedence over the bicycles since of late, the bicycle cannot be replaced or be taken away from the common men and women in the East and in particularly in Batticaloa.
Despite such a large bicycle usage in Batticaloa, the bicycle repairers and service providers have not kept up with the pace of modern methods and technology to equip their workshops and provide an efficient service. Most if not all of them still use the age old methods in attending to all forms of bicycle repairs and use the piston method to repair a punctured bicycle tube.
MJFCF, having assessed this situation and with the objective of strengthening this most environment friendly mode of transport in the eastern province and in particularly in Batticaloa, intervened to support these bicycle repairers though its Small Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP) programme.40 bicycle repairers been engaged in this trade for over 25 years, having learnt the trade from their Grand father or father, were selected after the usual evaluation process, to be provided with some moderns tools and equipment to strengthen their capacity in the repair shops. Among the 40 were 3 differently able persons, who have been engaged in repairing bicycles for well over 20 years.
Air compressors, Inflating guns, Pressure gauges, Tyre Levers, Tool kits, Instant tube repairs kits, and foot pumps were distributed to the selected bicycle repairers at a simple ceremony held in Batticaloa on 14th July. Deputy Chairman of MJF Group Himendra Ranaweera and Dilhan took time off their busy schedules to be in Batticaloa to personally hand over the tools and equipment to the 40 recipients all of them Tamils. The differently able bicycle repairers were provided with a tricycle each in addition to the tools and equipments.
Speaking at the event Himendra Ranaweera said “this was yet another dream of 60 years ago of the Chairman of MJF, Merrill J Fernando, coming to reality. The MJF Group and the MJF Foundation were indeed fortunate to be associated with an event of this nature, where the Foundation was distributing some essential tools and equipments to you’ll – small entrepreneurs to enable you to improve your business and through which you could provide a better future to your family and community”. He also mentioned that although the Chairman Merrill J Fernando would have very much liked to be personally present to distribute the equipments to the recipients, he is unable to do so as he is overseas, nevertheless the Chairman is no doubt here with you’ll today in his mind and spirit and would definitely wish each and every one of you’ll to do well in the future. In conclusion he said “Forget the past. Today there are Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese all gathered under one roof and experiencing a wonderful moment of togetherness. This is the need of the hour, Lets maintain this unity and forge ahead together and take this country forward towards prosperity for all of us”. He also did mention that “this is yet another occasion, where we at MJF and the MJF Foundation fulfill our commitment towards doing business as a mater of human service.”
Dilhan in his address to the recipients requested them to fulfill 3 things if they were to reciprocate what his father was doing to them today.
- Work hard with dedication and fairness and aim high to succeed like my father who started like you’ll – very small, but with sheer hard work and dedication and commitment and willingness to help the poor.
- Assuming that each and every one of you’ll will succeed , as you have the commitment to work hard and now you have got these new equipment and tools , try to help some one less fortunate than you, when you are successful
- Share your information on your progress with the representative of our partners in Batticaloa and if we see genuine hard working entrepreneurs among you, we will even assist you further to develop your business to even greater heights.
Partners of MJFCF in Batticaloa, GCCS headed by Pastor Ravi and his team made all the arrangements for the distribution of the equipment and tools to the 40 recipients, who gathered to collect their assistance with their spouses. This team will also closely monitor the progress of these bicycle repairers over the next 12 months and submit periodical reports to MJFCF. Encouraging and ensuring monthly savings from the additional income of these small entrepreneurs will be one of the primary areas of monitoring by the MJFCFs partners.
The recipients were unanimous in sharing their responses and gratitude to MJFCF and said that this was the first and the only occasion in recent history, that any organization has initiated a scheme to address the needs of this segment of small entrepreneurs – the common bicycle repairer, who have been overlooked all these years, despite such a large usage of bicycles in the East and in particularly in Batticaloa.