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    Building community through biking

    Day 200

    Like Riding a Bike

    On any given day in Nakivale Settlement you can see people participating in their favorite sporting activities. Futbol, basketball, running – it’s all here. And with over 100,000 people in the camp, these sports activities help bring communities together in ways few other things can. That was one of the driving forces behind Beatrice and Mwami’s idea for Day 200 – they wanted to host a women’s bicycle race between ARC Community Activists and participants from all the neighborhoods in Nakivale.

    You first met the Community Activists (CAs) back on Day 144. They are ARC frontliners – connecting members of the community with vital services, but having fun in the process too.

    What began as a women’s bike race grew into a bike race with both women’s and men’s divisions. Mwami and Beatrice gathered their fellow CAs together to plan a race for 100 people – inviting 10 members to participate from each of the 10 subregions near ARC’s base camp office, along with the 20 CAs. And after the race, everyone would share a meal together. “This has never been done before. People are excited” Mwami says. “For those previously left behind, this race brings them close. This is a chance for all Community Activists to ride with community members.”

    So on Day 200, nearly 100 people gathered with bikes in tow to ride a 5-mile loop around the settlement. All participants were given a number for entry. There was a bike mechanic to tune up bikes beforehand. And all were participating for the grand prize – a new bicycle for the first place finishers.

    Nkulunziza Omal and Uwimana Makel were the male and female finishers, both recent Burundian refugees from the New Buja neighborhood of Nakivale. Nkulunziza was the first place finisher overall. “I was very happy to win” he said. “I want to continue riding. I feel happy when everyone is cheering for me.” Uwimana chimed in that she also had fun and made some new friends – but that her new bike will serve a practical purpose too. “I had fun! I started riding a bike young so I knew I could win. My new bike will help me with daily chores. It will be good to ride again with new friends.”

    Everyone was happy that the race was accident-free, and enjoyed talking and eating together after. Mwami considers the bike race a great success. And he’s already thinking about what he’ll organize next. “We can do more together. We eat, drink, and talk together. We are going back as friends now.”

    The bike race participants send their special thanks to Kelsey Sells, Whitney Ulvestad, Sierra Keenan, Heather Bore, Elizabeth Hiller, SweatShop Health Club, Karis Thompson and anonymous donors for making the race and gathering happen. Thank you!

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    Changemakers 365

    by Alight

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