Grant #340


April 1, 2019

Did Your Bicycle Give You The First Taste Of Freedom And The Power To Go Places?

If you remember the heady exhilaration of pedaling away from the confines of your block, free at last, then you can imagine what a bicycle means to people stuck in a refugee camp in Greece. Getting their hands on a bike isn’t just escaping camp for a little while, it’s a lifeline to goods and services.

The Open Cultural Center tries to make life more dignified for refugees and asylum seekers. They run an education and community-building project in Polykastro, North Greece, a few miles from where as many as 750 people live in isolation at the Nea Kavala refugee camp. Residents struggle to get from the camp to Polykastro, where there are supermarkets, pharmacies and the local health center.

The OCC wants camp residents to have access to bicycles (free of charge) so they can get to town. Open Cultural Center’s project in Polykastro offers English classes, women-only activities, sports and community events such as movie night, all designed with the refugees and asylum seekers in mind.

Obviously any bike in the free-loan program is going to get a massive amount of wear and tear, so our AWB grant will go toward buying the spare parts like inner tubes, wheel rims (and locks!) that keep the fleet on the road.

OCC will help the camp residents develop skills in bicycle maintenance, leadership, record-keeping, data entry, and customer service.

Learn more about OCC here (you can also follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter), and maybe think about who in your nabe you could set free by donating that bike you are never, let’s get real, ever going to ride again.



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