Two students from the Keck School of Medicine of USC created a path to education by providing bikes to orphans worldwide.
The One Bicycle Foundation website has a running tally: Three continents served, nine countries, 20 schools, 1,072 bicycles delivered and 5,360 lives changed. The numbers for the nonprofit, which provides bikes to marginalized communities across the globe, grow daily.
While these numbers are impressive, so is the story behind them. Sebouh J. Bazikian ’24, a student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, was in high school when he started his journey into philanthropy. A decade later, he and his team continue to send bicycles worldwide, providing access to education, careers and health care. As part of their work, they’re also teaching others how to organize and benefit others.
“Running a nonprofit or being involved in philanthropy doesn’t have to be a full-time job,” Bazikian says. “There are so many resources to help you get started, and even the simplest ideas can have a relatively large impact.”
The grain of an idea
In 2013, a 16-year-old Bazikian was chatting with Carolyn Rowley, a family friend. Rowley was the director of Kenya’s Machao Orphanage, and she mentioned that children walked four hours round trip from the orphanage to school.
Bazikian had an idea: “I’ve always been a passionate cyclist,” he says. “So, providing the orphans with bicycles seemed like an ideal solution.” He didn’t expect that by coming up with the concept, he’d suddenly find himself in the driver’s seat for making it happen.
Bazikian enlisted the help of family, friends and his hometown community in Glendale. A core team, including Bazikian’s younger brother Shawnt and childhood friend and Keck School of Medicine alumnus Raffi Akay ’23, came together, forming Bikes 4 Orphans.