North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Local police officer helps send bikes to Zambia


January 17, 2018 | View PDF

Courtesy Photo

Locals in Zambia with the bicycles that were donated by the Marysville Police Department.

One Marysville police officer helped to send 24 bicycles around the world to Zambia where they are helping locals have reliable transportation.

Police officer Joe Belleme said he learned about the need from his friends.

"I have friends that are missionaries in Zambia," he said. "They were putting together a shipping container [of donated goods] and looking what to put in there."

Belleme said that he learned bicycles were a good donation as the transportation options in that part of the world are "really far and few between," he said.

"It can be the difference between having transportation or not," he added.

Belleme's friends are local missions Tricia and Kelly Huckaby who do their work through ACTION Zambia, an international ministries organization that primarily focuses on supporting those in poverty.

Tricia and Kelly Huckaby help operate a 19-acre rural property in Lusaka, Zambia, which is the capitol city.

The property includes Ciyanjano Christian Campground, which is a retreat/conference/camping ministry to support people from the slums of Lusaka.

At the campground previously only one staff member owned a car.

The shipping container left Bellingham last summer on Aug. 9 with books, bicycles, helmets and other supplies.

The supplies arrived on Nov. 10. Each of the 14 staff members of the campground was given a bicycle and a helmet so they could run errands and the staff delivered 10 children's bicycles and helmets to a local orphanage.

Belleme said he enjoys helping others. "Me and my wife definitely have a desire to help those in need," he said, adding that they have adopted a child from Ethiopia as well.

"Sometimes it's bikes, sometimes it's formula, sometimes it's aid to orphanages, but we want to support our friends' work in Africa," he said.

The bicycles come from the department. "They're either abandoned or stolen," he said.

Typically items like this are kept as "found property" and held until an owner comes to claim them, however many end up unclaimed.

Courtesy Photo

Locals in Zambia ride bicycles that were donated by the Marysville Police Department.

"We store them for 90 days and if no one claims them after that we usually donate them somewhere," said Belleme.

"We've been collecting all these bikes over the past couple of years," and the department's property manager asked if there was any place they could send them, said Belleme, who suggested Zambia.

Belleme took it upon himself to deliver and repair the bikes as well, even though he admits he is "no mechanic."

"Some were unfixable, but I just took parts from those and put them onto the other bikes until they worked," said Belleme. He also purchased tubes for some of the bicycles as well.

Finally, he had to actually haul the bicycle up to Bellingham, where the shipping container was being housed, which took him multiple trips.


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