Guest Author - Sharry Miller
Family Group Lirio de los Valles in Chimaltenango, Guatemala has been using a bicycle mill/corn degrainer to produce approximately 300 pounds of organic animal feed per day for their farm of chickens, turkeys, ducks and pigs.
The local women's collective Women for Development in Action, located in San Andres Itzapa, produces 100% organic aloe shampoo from plants they grow in their own homes, using bicycle blenders. The sale of this shampoo helps support their families and fund their independently-run municipal reforestation project.
Thirteen families in the remote area of San Martín make up AZUCENA. This women’s collective produces animal feed from their corn harvest using the bicycle corn degrainer and mill. They also run a Spanish literacy project for indigenous women in the community.
These groups are just a few examples of the many Guatemalans who benefit from the work of Maya Pedal, a nonprofit non-governmental organization that refurbishes or repurposes old bicycles. Founded in 1997 in conjunction with the Canadian organization PEDAL (Pedal Energy Development Alternatives), Maya Pedal develops and promotes the use of pedal-powered technology for everyday uses.
Maya Pedal receives old bikes from the United States and Canada at their workshop in San Andres Itzapa, Guatemala. About 75 percent of these bikes are repaired and refurbished for distribution to individuals who need a bike. Parts from the remaining 25 percent are refurbished as “bicimaquinas" (pedal powered machines) with the use of additional wood, concrete and metal. Bicimaquinas which have been developed thus far include water pumps, grinders, threshers, tile makers, nut shellers, blenders (for making soaps and shampoos as well as food products), trikes, trailers and more.
Because Maya Pedal makes tools, not projects, they work with six regional and eight national organizations to ensure the machines are put to good use and are used to help sustain and improve local standards of living. Some machines are sold to individuals while others go to cooperatives. Maya Pedal has also made many designs available on their website through downloadable fact sheets and how-to instructions.
The Maya Pedal workshop is staffed by locals and volunteers from around the world. Volunteer opportunities in sales and marketing, translating, bicycle mechanics, workshop engineering, and PDF instruction production are available to self-motivated people who are willing to work hard and have skills to offer and teach. This is not a “school of appropriate technology.” All volunteers are expected to be able to productively contribute to the organizations missions when they arrive in Guatemala.
In addition to volunteers, Maya Pedal is also always in need of donations of cash or goods. A variety of tools and household items are needed, with most urgent needs listed on their website.
In 2010, Maya Pedal was honored as a finalist for the Curry Stone Design Prize. The Curry Stone Design Prize honors an individual or group for developing and implementing visionary design innovations in emerging projects addressing critical issues such as access to clean air, food and water, shelter, health care, energy, education, social justice and the promotion of peace. This was quite an honor for a worthy organization.
If you are interested in supporting Maya Pedal as a volunteer or with a donation, their current needs and contact information can be found on their website at www.mayapedal.org.