Cycling can be a thrilling spectator sport, a fun way to relax or a staple part of a fitness regime, but did you know that bicycles also connect communities in lifesaving ways?
The estimated 2.5 million fans who gathered across Yorkshire to celebrate the Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France last weekend showed how much excitement and enjoyment watching top level cycling can bring to a community. Local businesses entered into the spirit of the event, creating imaginative tributes to le tour in their window displays and benefitting from the extra customers it brought into towns and villages across the county. The local authorities are hoping that the buzz created by the tour will bless their ambitious “Cycle Yorkshire” plan and initiate a “cycling revolution”, which would bring with it social, health and transport benefits to the county. However the power of the bicycle to improve lives does not stop here.
In Zambia a bicycle can literally be a lifeline for people with HIV. In rural areas where individuals cannot afford to maintain a car or pay for petrol, a bicycle is a precious tool for carers who have miles to travel between clients. With out them, home-based carers will walk from patient to patient, for hours each day. Because of the distance between communities, they are limited on how many people they can see and by the supplies they can carry.
A bicycle not only cuts down on the travel time between communities, allowing for carers to see more people per day, but also allows the carer to transport medical supplies and other materials on the bike rack at the back. This improves the services they can offer to patients that are bed ridden and need help. A bicycle can even double up as ambulance so that the caregivers can ferry patients to hospital!
Lillian, a care supporter at St Francis, Livingstone, explains the difference having a bicycle makes to her work and morale,
“ I now will be able to see my clients and have enough time to dedicate to my own small business as well as spend more time with my children. This bicycle will make life so much easier for me and I feel privileged to receive it.”
More information about CAFOD’s work in Zambia can be found here http://www.cafod.org.uk/About-Us/Where-we-work/Africa/Zambia
Did the Tour de France inspire you to get on your bike? Find out how you can join team CAFOD for a summer of cycling here http://www.cafod.org.uk/Fundraise/Sponsored-events/Cycling-own-place