DALLAS – Since he was 12 years old, Misericordia University sophomore Thomas Hircock ’18, has been traveling to India with his father, David Hircock, to raise money and help supply bicycles to the most marginalized girls so they have transportation to go to school. Founders of the nonprofit “Bikes to India,” the two delivered 50 bikes this summer and were able to spend time with Kailash Satyarthi, the 2014 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The father-son team will discuss their work in India at a Misericordia University Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week presentation on Monday, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m. in the Catherine Evans McGowan Room of the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library. The event is free and open to the public.
The efforts of Thomas, a nursing major, and his father have resulted in more than 500 bikes being distributed in India over the past eight years. Their work also has influenced the Indian State of Jharkhand to supply 460,000 bikes to children so they can attend school, thereby giving hope and opportunity to children in the poorest states of India. Their project was featured in a news report on the BBC when Thomas was 12 years old.
During their most recent visit in June 2015, the entire Hircock family traveled from their home in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester Springs to Rajasthan, and then to Kashmir, a northern state of India that borders Pakistan. The team included Thomas’ mother, Caroline, his sister, Tasmin, and his uncle, Peter Hircock. They delivered bikes to Bal Asram, a rehabilitation center for children rescued from child slavery in the local mining and garment industries.
“This all started because my dad, as part of his work auditing the supply chains of companies with overseas manufacturing, came across serious child labor violations and saw girls who, because of their situation, did not have access to education,” Thomas explained. “He came home and talked to our family about doing something to help. We started the Access to Education Foundation when I was 12.”
The Foundation supports the “Bikes to India” program, as well as other projects, such as a recent fundraising program he and Tasmin carried out at their high school, the Delaware Valley Friends School, Paoli. They were able to fund the building of two schools in the most remote areas of Nepal after earthquakes destroyed the structures earlier this year.
“These bikes are empowering girls to demand and be able to fight for their rights,” said
David Hircock. “We also receive many thanks from their mothers, who know that these bikes make the girls safer in their local and school travels.”
In addition to his academic and international service work, Thomas is a trained fire fighter and EMT, and lives in a house for firefighters in Dallas, sponsored by the Back Mountain Regional Emergency Management Agency. He works a 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift as many as four or five times a week. In addition to the reputation of the nursing program and the friendly atmosphere of the campus, he said he chose Misericordia University because of the opportunity to be a part of the EMS squad. He expects to earn his bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2018. He plans to work towards a master’s degree and Ph.D. in nursing, and pursue a career working in the emergency and intensive care areas as a transport or flight nurse.
For additional information on the “Bikes to India” program, please contact Christine Somers, D. Min., director of Campus Ministry, [email protected]; 570-674-6314.
Reach the Times Leader arts & entertainment team at 570-991-6109.