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Angelina ‘Must Be a Saint,’ Say Bicycle-Receiving Namibian Kids

We’re all motivated to ride bikes for different reasons; camaraderie, fitness, competition or to just mentally clear our heads.  For a group of children in Namibia riding a bike is the means to an education.

Back in 2006, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt earned their charitable reputation when they agreed to donate a reported $4 million to children in Africa from selling photographs of baby Shiloh. Part of the donation — about $10,000 — went specifically to buy 72 bicycles for children in two schools in northern Namibia.

Without a bicycle, some children had very difficult routes to get to school that would impair their studies and leave them struggling.

“I had to get up at 5 a.m. and leave home in the dark to get to school on time,” 16-year-old student Emiliana Shikongo told Life & Style. “It made me very tired.” Using a bicycle, courtesy of Jolie, takes just minutes.

“Now I can stay at school until 4 or 5 p.m. to finish my homework and still get home before dark,” she said. “Now my teachers and parents are happy with my performance – already I have improved my average, and my aim is to be getting 100 percent. I know with the bicycle I can do it.”

“She’s a very special person, and we’ll never forget her,” Shikongo said of Jolie.

“I think Angelina Jolie must be a saint,” said student Andreas Kristofelius, 17.

Improving their marks in school can change the lives of the Namibian students, who, with an education, could grow up to become doctors or teachers and help improve the future generations of Namibia.
“The bicycles have made a huge difference,” said math teacher Daniel Kapendye. “It’s become easier to motivate kids to learn and do well.”

To help set up the charitable organization, Jolie reached out to former Miss Universe Michelle McLean. Together, McLean and Jolie helped send money and donations to not just schools but orphanages, soup kitchens and early-childhood-development training for teachers.

“Angelina said the donation was Shiloh’s legacy to Namibia,” McLean told Life & Style. “She was excited about the bicycle project. She knows vast distances prevent a large number of kids from attending school every day.”

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