Chicago tourism

How do bikes from the Chicago Working Bikes community store end up around the world? – Streetblog Chicago

I first learned Work bikesa non-profit community bicycle shop in Little Village, when I was studying at the University of Illinois at Chicago and saw a short documentary about a used bike container Work bikes shipped to countries where access to bicycles is limited. I had never heard of organizations working on these sorts of projects, and as a starry-eyed 19-year-old I became fascinated with the concept of not letting bikes go to waste and getting them back to new. in place. I had started riding bikes around town and this movie motivated me even more to volunteer at the store to learn more about bike mechanics and the projects Working Bikes was involved in.

Screenshot 2022-05-24 at 16:24.35
Working Bikes staff and volunteers pack a container. Photo: Ruth Rosas

One of the many volunteer activities you can do is pack a shipping container full of bikes. Packing a container is difficult and requires a lot of coordination to adapt the right amount of bikes, spare parts and other useful items. As a volunteer, you know where the bikes go and to which program, but volunteers rarely meet those who have used the donated bikes. That’s why when Working Bikes hosted an international partner from Uganda, Jane Anyango, it was exciting to hear a first-hand account of how these bikes are being used in the Bwindi area of ​​Kanungu District, southwestern Uganda.

The Bwindi region in southwestern Uganda.  Picture: Google Maps
The Bwindi region is in southwestern Uganda. Picture: Google Maps

Jane is the director of Bwindi School of Nursing which helps young girls to become nurses for Bwindi Community Hospital. Many communities have been affected by the shortage of nurses, especially in remote areas where access to social services is limited. Bwindi School of Nursing is in a difficult to access area with an unsealed road network. Residents of the surrounding area have limited access to health services due to mobility issues and a shortage of health care providers.

Jane noticed that many nursing students were male and developed an action plan to recruit and retain more women in the nursing program. The use of bicycles is one of the many ways women in this region have been empowered. Jane facilitated the use of bicycles among students at Bwindi School of Nursing and nurses at Bwindi Community Hospital.

Jane Anyango tours works bikes.  Photo: Ruth Rosas
Jane Anyango tours works bikes. Photo: Ruth Rosas

These bikes are from a nearby store called Bwindi Women’s Bike Company. In 2017, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropya philanthropic organization that supports development projects, has donated money to help open a new bike shop near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The goal was to create a woman-owned, woman-managed bike shop. The store receives shipments of bicycles from foreign organizations.

Working Bikes has supported this project since 2017 and sent five expeditions to the store and a mechanic for a two-month teaching residency. As part of the project, the shop provides bicycles to some of the nursing students so that they can reach very distant health facilities or people who cannot travel to a health center or hospital. The bike shop also supports tourism in the area by offering guided tours of the forest. This provides a skills-building opportunity and an income for the mechanics in the workshop, all of whom are women.

Women in front of bicycle transport containers in Bwindi.  Photo: BWBE
Women in front of bicycle transport containers in Bwindi. Photo: BWBE

During the event, Jane showed photos of the Bwindi Bike Shop, Nursing School and Hospital; nurses riding bicycles in very remote areas; and mechanics fixing bikes donated by Working Bikes. Jane spoke to the public about her efforts to grow this small nursing school that was struggling to recruit and retain students who were women to recruit students from other countries. This project at the nursing school and bike shop represents the intersection of transportation, healthcare, empowerment, workforce development, and sustainability, through support for the needs development and health care for many people who have limited access to mobility and income.

I think events where you hear from the recipients of empowerment resources themselves are the best events. It is necessary to hear from the project managers because it provides a platform for those who make these initiatives interesting. It gave Working Bikes audiences a chance to understand the projects that don’t influence bias and deepen their understanding of how the bike is a tool of change for those receiving the containers.

The Bwindi Women Bicycle Enterprise store.  Photo: BWBE
The Bwindi Women Bicycle Enterprise store. Photo: BWBE

If you are interested in volunteering with Working Bikes, visit their website to learn more about how you can get involved. If you would like to donate a bicycle, visit one of their many drop-off locations.