Manav G. of Troop 1983 grew up in India. There he saw extreme poverty first-hand, with families begging in the street to feed their children, and the daily struggles of the people were impoverished. As a result, when he moved to America at age 9, Manav was struck by the luxuries and privileges that many Americans took for granted.
When he joined Scouts BSA to find a community and friends in his new hometown, Manav immediately latched on to the Scouting message of giving back to and raising up others. His dedication extended even to his favorite merit badge, Citizenship in the World, which allowed him to, in his eyes, “see my impact and the ways I can make the world a better place and help, even as a 13 or 15-year-old kid.” So when the time came for his Eagle Project, Manav knew he wanted something that gave back globally. So he collaborated to create a Bike Drive with Bikes For The World. This leading non-profit organization collects unwanted bikes from across America to supply community development programs in impoverished areas of developing nations. The bikes he collected would be destined for Sierra Leone, where children would use them for recreation and adults for their business and travel.
Manav spent the eight days leading up to the bike drive in a focused marketing mode. Worried that, even in a city, there were only so many people with bikes and fewer willing to donate, Manav ensured that his project would reach a broad audience. He combined online social media postings with paper fliers put up in key locations around the city. He also contacted local churches, attended online meetings, and went in person to speak wherever he could. Though the Scout wished he had even more time to continue raising awareness, Manav’s efforts had paid off when the day of the drive came.
Despite his worries about the short marketing period, Manav’s drive was an overwhelming success. Like clockwork, as bikes came in, Manav’s team would quickly offload and begin dismantling them to make it cheaper and easier to transport them abroad. The team would then load the dismantled bikes onto trucks headed for the Bikes of the World headquarters. Such was the massive amount of bikes collected that, at one point, the Scout remembered they covered more than two entire parking spots. With 168 bikes collected, Manav’s project had blown past his troop’s prior record, beating the previous highest bike drive by over 60 bikes.
Though his project has concluded, Manav remains dedicated to helping others worldwide. Manav holds monthly bake sales for the AURED Trust, which supplies hearing aids to hearing-impaired children throughout India. He is also currently interning with an organization dedicated to providing free vaccinations throughout rural America. He plans to study business in college and use his studies to find an intersection between finance and conservation.
Manav urges Scouts to “make the push to Eagle. It’s so worth it. When you look back, it will be such a learning experience and it will be so worth it. There are always going to be things you don’t expect, but try to work around that, and you’ll find all the fun you have with it.”