A Dublin bike shop owner is seeking donations of old or unwanted bikes to refurbish and pass on to Ukrainian refugees.
Paul McQuaid, who runs River Cycles beside the James Joyce Bridge at Usher’s Island, provided free bike repairs to hospital staff and other frontline workers from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He is now asking people who have bikes they no longer use to make them available to Ukrainian families.
“So many bikes are lying in people’s sheds or at the end of their gardens that could be put to good use and make some small difference to people’s lives while they’re here.”
McQuaid will accept offers of adult and children’s bike and asks that, if possible, owners send him a picture so he can assess their condition.
“I’m not looking for anything fancy, the dustier the better, I just need to see that they are in reasonable shape, but I have all the parts to put them back on the road.” Donations of locks and lights would also be appreciated, he said.
He got the idea after a friend sent him details of a Ukrainian woman who had recently arrived with her two children and needed a way to get them to school.
“It was just a small thing I could do for Maria and the kids. I had bikes I could give them, but I want to do this on a wider scale, and for that I’ll need people to bring me in bikes that I can pass on.”
Maria Mezhenska and her family fled Kyiv two days into the war, travelling first to western Ukraine, where her husband remains. She then crossed the border with her son Mark (13) and daughter Mirra (8) to Moldova. From there she drove to Romania and Hungary, before flying to Ireland from Budapest.
“Everywhere we went was already so full. We don’t know anyone in Ireland, we had never been here, but my son, we had talked about taking him to Dublin in the summer to a language school. We had been planning this, looking at Dublin and we began to love Ireland, so that is why we came.”
Shortly after arriving in Ireland they received news that their home had been destroyed.
“Our house burned down last Friday. We had a very good new house, we built it three years ago. There are some neighbours still there, and they told us. We have no home now.”
Since arriving in Ireland the family have been staying at the Holiday Inn at Dublin Airport, but it is some distance from the schools in which the children have been placed.
“The schools are a little bit far to walk. I wrote on Facebook about our situation and I ask if people had bicycles or scooter we could use. A woman she said her friend Paul would write to me. He contacted me and I went to his shop and he gave us bikes,” she says.
“People in Ireland have been very kind, very generous. I think the children are feeling better now than they were anywhere else on the way.”
People who would like to donate a bike or locks and other accessories, and Ukrainians in need of bikes can email firstname.lastname@example.org or by WhatsApp to 086 2656258.