Bikes for workers wanted

Vanuatuan seasonal workers appreciate being able to borrow bikes to use during their stay in Central Otago, and Clyde man Frits Wouters (second from right) is asking more people to donate roadworthy bikes. Fruitpickers at an Earnscleugh orchard (from left) Morris Kalo, George Manuake, Blaise Waki and Sael Valagailos say the bikes make a huge difference to how they use their leisure time. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Vanuatuan seasonal workers appreciate being able to borrow bikes to use during their stay in Central Otago, and Clyde man Frits Wouters (second from right) is asking more people to donate roadworthy bikes. Fruitpickers at an Earnscleugh orchard (from left) Morris Kalo, George Manuake, Blaise Waki and Sael Valagailos say the bikes make a huge difference to how they use their leisure time. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Clyde man Frits Wouters is calling for offers of second-hand bikes to benefit Vanuatuan seasonal workers in Central Otago.

Mr Wouters (75), an unofficial volunteer for the visitors from Vanuatu, is on a mission to provide them with transport during their stay in the district.

He said many of the foreign workers on orchards in the Clyde-Earnscleugh area had to walk or hitchhike into Alexandra when they fancied a trip to town, as they had no other option for getting there.

''If I was in Vanuatu, I'd probably appreciate it, too, if I was stuck,'' Mr Wouters said of his fledgling scheme.

So far, he has been offered just a couple of bikes, but he was confident there were many more gathering dust in people's garages and garden sheds which could be donated and put to good use.

One Vanuatuan orchard worker who had already been presented with a recycled ride was ''very happy'' to be spared the long walk to Alexandra, Mr Wouters said.

The bikes would remain in Central Otago once the seasonal staff had departed and be offered to next year's influx of workers.

The bike appeal is not the first time Mr Wouters has helped others with a public plea for donated goods.

A few years ago, he spearheaded a project to ship 3000 books donated by Central Otago people to schoolchildren in Ghana, West Africa, after he travelled there and saw first-hand the poverty of the developing country and the lack of education available.

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz