Thursday, July 6, 2017
Catch-22, Meet Force of Nature
Back then Bikes for the World Ghanaian parnter VBP noticed an important distinction...women really needed bikes, but many didn't have them. Some had never learned to ride a bike. Others kept having their bikes stolen from their male relatives or even other boys in the village. It was a gender biased Catch-22.
With her new riding skills a young woman could borrow her brother or father's bike and run errands more efficiently, maybe to go get firewood in the evening. Or to carry heavy loads of water.
All of a sudden these chores became, dare we say, fun. It definitely saved time and enabled her to carry more wood. It also allowed her to skip the dangerous practice of head loading, where women carry extremely heavy loads on their heads, sometimes injuring their necks and backs.
Regardless, VBP started offering bikes to men and women at all their clinics. And what they found was increased productivity in the village. Kids were going to and staying in school. Farmers increased crops. Budding mechanics found work. And bikes just kept rolling year after year.
Eventually, VBP started to offer women's only classes. Here the trainers could focus more directly on what the women really needed to improve. Without the, sometimes domineering, men around, women were in a more relaxed space where they felt more comfortable asking questions and moving at their skill level and pace.
At the end of the class, the women received: a wire brush, screwdriver, tire levers, lube, a tube, and a pump. Oh, and a bicycle and the skills to ride it!
Selina uses her bicycle to get to work and also for work. Her farm is about four miles from her house and it used to take her two hours a day to walk.
She now does that commute in under 30 minutes and uses the time she saves to grow more cassava! She also uses the rack on the back to carry the cultivated cassava directly to her customers.
With the saved time and extra income not only is Selina's life improved but so are the lives of her three children.
To borrow the phrase from REI Co-Op, Selina Abuakwa is a true Force of Nature.