Update on Our Partner Ecovolis

by Patricia Hamill
Fall 2014 InGear

7Just recently, we received some positive updates from Ened Mato, CEO of Ecovolis in Albania. He announced that there have been 4 successful projects put in motion that were made possible through our partnership with them.

The first project he told us about was the development of an entrepreneurial endeavor called Trasta o Nona (The Sack is the Best). With the 20 sewing machines P4P was able to ship to them, 5 disadvantaged young people gained employment making cloth bags to replace the heavily depended on plastic bags from stores. In three months, 3,000 bags were sold. Even better is the fact that their overhead so far is 0 since the material comes from coffee companies and donated clothing.

The second success story is about a movement called Release Lanes or the Free Bike Lanes Movement that was started by thousands of bicycle enthusiasts in Tirana. They are actively protesting the lack of bike lanes and poor driver awareness that the cyclists must deal with daily. Funding from P4P’s involvement was the catalyst for this activism and all participants readily acknowledge our part in their cause.

As most of you know, not all of the bicycles shipped elsewhere go solely to new owners to use. In some cases, as with Ecovolis, the cycles are sold to the public and then the funds collected are used for improving the lives of the local population. For instance, the first $7,000 (USD) earned from a bicycle sale was directly transformed into something called Ecological Gardens. Five public gardens in Tirana that were languishing from neglect, now have solar panels installed, parking for bicycles, and recycling receptacles. All make these locations cleaner and more relaxing now.

Ened also informed us that some funds collected in April from bike sales was put to use building small freestanding “libraries” in some of the parks and playgrounds in Tirana. Children are able to take a book out of the little library and then return it for another. Lastly, some of the bikes at the time of the sale were reserved for the children’s daycare center Shtwpiza e Ngjyrave (House of Colors) so that the little ones would have more options for playtime.

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As their web site states, Ecovolis was created to be “ . . . a program that will forever change the way people perceive [Tirana], how they experience and perceive transportation, creating a more vibrant city, a place where people want to work and live with a quality and entertaining environment.” In these days of reinventing ourselves and putting concerted effort into recycling all that we can, it’s always gratifying to learn how the donated bicycles and sewing machines from the States become more than used cycles or machines elsewhere. They become clean energy sources, earth friendly bags made by newly employed people, books for children, and even garden plots. It might be time to take a trip to see Tirana’s improvements in person.

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