Some of the women of R4W with One Street executive director Sue Knaupp

Not long ago I found out about an amazing organization called Ride 4 A Woman. Operating in the Bwindi National Park, Ride 4 a Woman is using bicycles to socially empower the women in Uganda. Most of these women spend their entire days and many nights caring for their households and their families.  There is no time left for learning a trade and earning money.

Ride 4 a Woman is tackling this problem head on.  Through renting bicycles to tourists in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest, R4W is raising funds to build and run a women’s shelter.  In this shelter women are have the opportunity to learn very valuable skills including fabric making, basket weaving, crafts, bicycle repair, and to speak English.  Women are also provided with a safe haven, child care, agricultural and animal rearing education and a bicycle.

Women members with the women's center under construction.

By providing these women with a bicycle, their daily journeys are much easier and can be accomplished up to six times faster than walking.  This leaves more time for education and income generating opportunities. This is an important example of how bicycles can have a profound impact on an under privileged community.

Feredisa is one of the oldest members riding a bike for the 1st time in her life

A dear friend Stephen Bilenky brought my attention to this organization and for a several months I’ve been in contact with Denis Rubalema, Co-founder and Education Director for R4W.  He has been sending photos and updates on the progress of the program.  We wanted to learn more about the organization in hopes of organizing a fundraiser to bring awareness and support to this very humble non-profit.  But before we could make this happen, we received a very straightforward and reasonable request for assistance.

“We had our very first shipment of five large boxes of quality bicycle parts and professional bicycle tools worth thousands of dollars arrive in Entebbe Airport, Uganda last Tuesday with an ominous message: Unless R4W pays $562 all of these parts and tools will be sold at auction. R4W does not have these funds.”

R4W has been working with One Street, a US non-profit that aids organizations working to increase bicycling and social equity needs.  One Street has helped R4W get connected with a wholesale distributor to bring in parts and tools.  Ordinarily, there would not be an import tax for non-profit organizations in Uganda but due to the political turmoil of the region, R4W has no choice but to pay the tax.

There are many people in this world doing wonderful things with bicycles but few of them touch us on the level that this organization has.  Everywhere, efforts to share cycling are being made to green our world and build better communities.  While in Uganda, R4W is bringing bicycles to women to improve their daily lives and provide for basic needs.

some of the women members with the 1st lot of 8 bikes donated to R4W

So, while organizing a national fund raising campaign is still a goal of ours, their need for assistance is much more urgent.  By working together, we have the opportunity to ensure R4W receives their shipment and maybe prepare them for the next one.

To support R4W go to their donation page on the website or through the One Street donation form (please specify R4W shipment fee).  As mentioned above, this is an urgent request as R4W needs the funds by Tuesday, May 24th.

Doreen, an R4W chairperson, with Penelope our guide, after removing a wheel for the first time

Penelope showing some of the women how to fix a pedal.

Denis the Executive Director of R4W addressing some of the women after the bicycle training workshop in January 2011

Recent press for Ride 4 a Woman:

Uganda: Bicycles At the Heart of Empowerment Scheme for Rural Women

Ride 4 A Woman