HomeCyclingHousehold Biking: Serving to new Afghan refugees get bikes

Household Biking: Serving to new Afghan refugees get bikes

WashCo’s Joe Kurmaskie and Steve Boughton with LCSNW translators, helpers and refugee shopper on the bike giveaway occasion.
(Pictures: Shannon Johnson/BikePortland)

This previous Saturday, child Felix and I had a blast on the first bike giveaway occasion in an thrilling new partnership between WashCo Bikes and Lutheran Neighborhood Companies Northwest. WashCo is dedicated to getting over 100 bike packages (with lock, mild, and helmet) to Afghan refugees settling in Washington County and the Portland metro space. This thrilling occasion welcomed dozens of LCSNW’s refugee purchasers and obtained them arrange on bicycles.

It was a pleasure to look at as WashCo’s govt director, Joe Kurmaskie, ran from individual to individual, becoming helmets, elevating and decreasing bike seats, handing out lights and locks and personally writing dozens of vouchers for refugees to select up bikes at WashCo’s Hillsboro store. There was a pre-arranged checklist of refugees because of get bicycles, however no shopper was turned away.

“We’re going to get you a bicycle!” was Kurmaskie’s repeated enthusiastic chorus. Regardless of language variations, the considerable smiles (see beneath) wanted no translation.

Child Felix performed his personal little half within the lead-up to this occasion, as a result of it was someday through the sleepless-late-night-nursing-phone-scrolling marathons that his Mama found that a whole bunch of Afghan refugees had been despatched to Portland for resettlement after fleeing the Taliban. (Resettlement companies are actually making ready for an inflow of refugees fleeing the struggle in Ukraine.)

Bored with merely watching the information and crying into her morning cup of espresso, Felix’s Mama reached out to Lutheran Neighborhood Companies Northwest to ask: “Would bicycles assist?”

“Sure!” was the enthusiastic response.

“Bikes are a primary type of transportation for purchasers,” defined a case supervisor. Some refugees don’t communicate English. Public transit will be complicated and tough to navigate, particularly with restricted English abilities. Many consumers reside a protracted stroll to bus stops and job alternatives. They don’t arrive with an American driver’s license, or a automobile. However, like all of us, they want a dependable method to get round.

Case staff hear many tales of refugee transportation wants, and say {that a} bicycle generally is a big assist. For instance, they informed me a couple of shopper who obtained off work at 1:00 am, then had bother along with his bus go. Unable to talk English, and never understanding what to do, he merely walked dwelling–5 hours! If solely he had a bicycle…(or free public transit! Perhaps sometime.)

(Click on for captions)

In any case, it’s clear bicycles are an amazing type of mobility for newly arrived refugees. As biking advocates know nicely, bikes present transit, independence, and larger entry to work alternatives. They shorten pedestrian commute occasions. They supply train and recreation. And they’re an effective way to discover and combine into one’s new group, particularly in bike-friendly Portland.

Correctly motivated, Felix and I contacted my beloved native bike store and non-profit, WashCo Bikes, to beg for some bicycles for brand new refugees. I had a fastidiously ready speech, however I didn’t even get to complete it earlier than Kurmaskie interrupted, “Let me simply cease you proper there, as a result of that is what we do. That is our mission. We’ll make this occur. No quid professional quos. We’ll do it.”

Wow, has Kurmaskie and WashCo made good on that promise! They produce other bike giveaway occasions already deliberate for refugees with LCSNW, and in the event that they go something like this one, WashCo can be ensuring a whole bunch of our latest neighbors have the bicycles they should get them the place they should go, and Child Felix and I are excited to be alongside for the journey.

That is one other flip within the street of our household biking journey–and Felix hasn’t even taken his first trip but! That’s coming quickly, however within the meantime, we’re thrilled to have fun WashCo Bikes, Lutheran Neighborhood Companies Northwest, and each new refugee who simply acquired a heat welcome into the Portland space biking group.

If you wish to help WashCo’s work to get bicycles to refugees and in-need group members, please contemplate making a contribution or donating a used bicycle.