Wheels on the Ground in Jinja, Uganda
Liz Zipse and her husband Kip have been traveling the world for the past year, with the intent to learn, adventure, and most of all--give back. With a goal of incorporating one day per week of volunteerism into their travels, Liz and Kip have participated in a myriad of amazing projects as they've hiked, dived and surfed their way around the globe. In May, the couple found themselves in Uganda visiting their friends who are the founders of Light Gives Heat, which we blogged about in 2011. In short time, Liz and Kip's day of giving back turned into a formative lesson on the Power of Bicycles. Read Liz's first-hand account below!
Through the joint efforts of two incredible non profit organizations, World Bicycle Relief, and Light Gives Heat (LGH), along with the inspiration of two bicycle enthusiasts, what began as a bicycle demonstration over a year ago has resulted in shiny new bicycles and a new mode of transportation for a group of women in Jinja, Uganda.
My husband and I, as part of our goal to volunteer at least one day each week, saw firsthand the joy that a bicycle can bring when we helped organizers deliver a truckload of Buffalo Bicycles to a group of working moms in Uganda. Radiant smiles adorned the faces of women and children alike as the WBR bikes were unloaded from the truck. Those smiles turned to intense concentration as the demonstration on assembling and repairing the bicycles was conducted, with each woman taking a turn placing a new piece onto the new bicycle frame.
And these are no ordinary women. The mission of Light Gives Heat (LGH), the nonprofit that works with these women, is to empower Africans by encouraging economic sustainability and creative endeavors. One of their projects called Suubi, which means “hope” in Lugandan, provides consistent income for over 90 women artisans in Jinja. These women are now the proud owners of brand new bicycles, which they will use to get back and forth to work, to buy groceries, go to church, and take their kids to school.
Through an innovative savings program set up through LGH, these Jinja women were able to set aside money from each paycheck towards the purchase of a WBR bicycle. Those who signed up for the program raised half of the funds, and the other half was paid for through fundraising efforts of LGH, Corey Collier, and Lara Kroepsch.
We felt so fortunate for the opportunity to see what a difference a bicycle can make. Empowerment in action is a beautiful thing!