My Justice Journey: All We Can Bicycles

blog-9-aimeeAimee Nott, Head of Communications and Advocacy at All We Can, the Methodist Relief and Development Charity

Do you have a vivid memory of a bicycle ride? Perhaps you’re a keen cyclist, often riding in the countryside and taking in new sights. Or perhaps, you remember summer days, cycling to picnics, or teaching your own children to ride a bicycle. Perhaps it’s how you commute to work.

At All We Can, bicycles are not only a way of getting from A to B - but a vital reminder of what justice can look like. For communities in rural Uganda, the bicycle is a genuine tool of transformation – helping children like Eria, a teenager living in Butagaya, Uganda, access education quickly, safely and easily. Where once it would take a student like Eria around two hours to reach the school gates each morning, his journey time is now halved – meaning he has more time to concentrate on his education, help and support his family, and pursue opportunities so that he has a thriving future.

I had the pleasure of meeting Eria at the end of 2019. We talked at length about the impact that access to a bicycle has had on him and his family. He worked hard to support his family, who struggled to make ends meet, by building bricks. Labouring in the hot, humid climate of his hometown in rural Uganda, his schooling used to suffer as it would take too long to travel to class, and he needed to spend time working to support his family. ‘It feels like it affects my performance in class, at times when you reach school late,’ Eria explained. ‘This is not what I would want to do, but it is the only option I have to earn a living and support my family and myself.’

blog-9-bicycleBut change, for Eria and many other young people in Uganda, begins with a bicycle. Our partner in the region provided Eria with a bicycle – helping him halve his journey time, so that he can spend more time in school as well as helping to support his family. ‘The bike will help me reach school in time’ Eria said, ‘I believe I will be able to change my life with my bike.’ Education is an essential tool for helping young people like Eria to access opportunities and flourish – and the humble bicycle is a key to unlocking a better future.

Shortly after I met Eria in 2019, the world was turned on its head by the pandemic. But, even then, bicycles were an important tool for justice. When public transport was banned in Uganda at the start of the pandemic, rural communities found themselves unable to make essential journeys – to farms, to vital medical appointments, and to the clinic to give birth, amongst many other things.

Our partner in Uganda ensured that the communities they serve had access to safe and sanitised bicycles, meaning they could still access critical services during the pandemic. We know they were vitally important during that time – without them, community members would have had to give birth without medical support, or miss out on critical medical appointments. 

blog-9-steve-bicycleSince then, the bicycle which you can see my colleague Steve pictured on has had quite the journey.

Flown across the world from Uganda, it’s visited churches, gone on epic sponsored cycling events, and been a powerful tool for communicating the impact that can be had when people like Eria are supported to access the tools they need to unlock their own future.

You can find out more about All We Can’s work, and how we’re working alongside partners to help see every person’s potential fulfilled at www.allwecan.org.uk.