A bicycle can save a life. $125 dollars can literally transform the life and livelihood of another human being.
In rural western Uganda, bordering Congo, the primary means of transportation is walking. People travel to the market, water hole, the hospital and places of employment by walking the hard dirt or badly rutted paved roads. Imagine the difference that a bicycle can make. They can be fitted with carriers to transport packages, water, firewood and can even be outfitted to carry as much as would fill a small pick up truck. And they carry these loads to and from destinations in a fraction of the time.
When I visited Uganda recently, I had a unique opportunity to track mountain gorillas through the dense Virunga Forest. In all the world, there are less than 1000 of these magnificent animals still in the wild, all living in the small, but rugged and beautiful volcanic chain of mountains I was now climbing, bordered by Rwanda, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. It was 90 degrees, high humidity and the elevations soared quickly to 9000 feet up the very steep side of a volcano. I returned from this seven hour trek totally exhausted. Even though my backpack had only my camera and water bottles, I followed the suggestion of our local guide and hired a porter. He told me this helped the local economy. Turns out, this 16 year old kid had walked 20 kilometers from his parent’s subsistence farm, to where we left the Ranger’s station that morning, and he told me he that as soon as we finished our trek, he had to immediately walk home to help his parents in the field before the sun set.
Yes, we gave him a ride home that day. What, I thought, if we had been able to hand him a bike? See What happened