Through project “Books and Bikes for Africa,” Fairfax Co. teen aims to bring easier access to education for students

Virginia

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — We have no shortage books and bikes here in the United States, but for students in Africa, they’re a rare sight. Now, Madison High School student, Sophia Brown, is aiming to change that.

Inside a small school in northeast Tanzania sits a colorful corner full of books. It’s all thanks to Brown who, at just 14 years old, collected a thousand books for the library.

“Seeing pictures of all these kids that didn’t have what I had…I wanted to give in a way that I could help change their lives,” said Brown.

Brown with students in Tanzania.

She began volunteering with non-profit Wheels to Africa to send bikes to communities in need. Quickly, she saw how crucial items like a bike or a book were for education.

“It’s just a whole new level of poverty. These people are walking miles upon miles just to get to water.”

Brown decided to use her Girl Scout’s Gold Award project to further her mission in helping the students.

“I combined the two pieces together to make it ‘Books and Bikes for Africa,‘ which is just to increase access to education altogether,” she said. “The bikes to get to school, and then the books as an educational tool.”

After months of hosting donation drives, Brown traveled to Tanzania in June to deliver the items. The most impact moment, she says, was gifting a bike to a teacher who walked miles per day to school.

Brown gifting a bike to a teacher in Tanzania.

“She just started bursting out in tears. It was so rewarding to see how she reacted to something that to us, is so simple of an item,” said Brown. “What a bike and a book can do can really change the lives of so many people.”

The teen just turned her project into a non-profit organization. She says she hopes to return to Africa each year to continue to create positive change.

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