The Bedouin village of Um Bateen, just outside Beersheba in southern Israel, has no paved roads – which makes it the perfect place for a new mountain bike club.
The Bikes4All project, sponsored by the Israel Cycling Federation and funded by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, has distributed free bikes to more than 1,400 Jewish, Arab, Druze and Christian kids throughout Israel. Fifty of them were donated to two schools in Um Bateen.
Bikes4All was set up by Eyal Hershtik, who quit the world of high-tech after seven years and devoted himself to the world of bicycles.
Hershtik hopes to pass on the positive aspects of cycling to youth all over Israel. As he sees it, these include the values of working together; learning about responsibility – for the equipment and each other; road safety; and concern for the environment.
Once kids prove their commitment to the project, they are allowed to take the bikes home, fulfilling another aim of Bikes4All – that the boys will have their own transportation from home to school and back again.