For most of us, cycling is a way to keep fit. It’s a good excuse to get outside more. Maybe even have some fun
So long as you’re not too unfit.
But that’s not the case for everyone. In some parts of the world, bicycles are “transporting people out of poverty”.
Imagine wanting to study but not being able to get to school.
Imagine being sick and not being able to get to the hospital.
Imagine growing crops and not being able to sell them.
Imagine being forced into an early marriage because you have no other options.
Imagine not having access to better opportunities.
What Is Poverty?
Ask the average Westerner what poverty is, and they’ll likely tell you it’s not having enough food to eat or not having access to clean water and sanitation.
To some degree, both are right.
However, this response from an attendee at a Ugandan Financial Workshop drills to the heart of what it actually means to live in poverty.
“Poverty is not having transportation to leave my community. It’s seeing other people leave and access greater opportunity—getting to bigger markets or even a health clinic—and it’s you who is stuck.”
A Means to Create Change
Recognizing the pivotal role bicycles play, particularly in impoverished communities, the United Nations instituted World Bicycle Day as a way to celebrate an invention that’s as simple as it is life changing.
Along with being an affordable and reliable mode of transport, bicycles are also an eco-friendly and sustainable way to get around.
Where the bicycle really comes into its own though, is in rural areas where it serves as a means to access education, healthcare and better economic opportunities.
Bicycles Provide Access To Opportunities
In Uganda, one bicycle has the power to impact five locals. Among other things, it can triple market attendance, connect people to healthcare facilities, get students to and from school and carry more water in less time.
[Watch] Bicycles Against Poverty – A Story of Grace
Bicycles Help Rural Girls Avoid Childhood Marriage
In India, the gender gap in education persists in this traditionally male-dominated society. The dropout rate amongst adolescent teen girls is high. With no other options, they’re often forced into early marriage.
Bicycles are “a road to empowerment” for these girls. Cycling allows them to not only dream big, but to make those dreams a reality.
The problem isn’t specific to India, mind you. Currently, more than 573 million women and girls worldwide are illiterate.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Once you understand how to support girl’s education, you have the power to make a difference.
Sponsoring a bicycle is one option, but there are plenty of other ways to help. You could make a monthly donation, host a fundraiser or simply spread the message online.
[Watch] Pedal = Sight: With My Own Two Wheels
[Watch] How a Bicycle is Leading One Girl Out of Poverty
What You Can Do To Help
To date, Qhubeka —a South African-based non-profit— has provided bicycles to more than 90,000 disadvantaged locals. They’re not alone in their efforts.
Like-minded citizens everywhere are on a similar mission. If you want to help make a difference to the world’s poor, the best way to do that is by supporting one of the many amazing cycling charities working to change the status quo.