'I felt so loved!' Maureen's Story
Maureen is a 33 year old Ugandan asylum seeker and one of our fabulous Pedal Power graduates. This is her story...
I joined Pedal Power about a year ago. Before that, the last time I rode a bike was when I was 5 or 6 years old! I never had my own bike in Uganda.
When I joined Pedal Power, I met lots of friends from different countries. You know, in some of our countries, as a woman, you are mocked.
If they see you cycling on the road, they mock you and they start laughing at you. So it's really exciting to see young women learn how to cycle.
Pedal Power has given me the opportunity to get a bike and cycle on the road, which has eased my transport problems.
Now I cycle everywhere. I'm really happy and proud. I walk with my shoulders up high!
Before Pedal Power, I think I was on the verge of getting depression. Now, sometimes when I feel down I cycle into the city and go window shopping.
Two months ago, I lost my bike. At first, I found it hard to report it to Pedal Power – I thought it would be a really difficult thing. But when I told them what happened, they said, 'Don't worry about it!' and gave me a new bike. I felt so loved!
Last week, we went to the Copper Box arena to watch a London Pulse netball game.
Although we did not win, I saw the players had this huge connection. Even in the last minute, they tried whatever it took to get back in the game.
The fact that they are young girls who really want to promote the game was so inspiring. They were really beautiful, strong women. And I loved their uniforms – they looked smashing in the pink!
Despite the fact that the team was losing, the spectators kept cheering. For me, it was really fun and exciting.
But the most exciting part was meeting Clare Balding. I recognised her, this lady who works on the BBC.
Afterwards, I was interviewed by Clare. That was a huge thing for me. She asked me how my cycling is going and how I feel about it. (This interview turned up in Clare's column in the Waitrose magazine, ed.)
I'd say to asylum seekers that if they learn how to cycle they can eliminate or at least improve on their transport system.
Also, it can help us to unite and get to know each other as asylum seekers and people from different diaspora. It's fun getting together and doing something that makes us forget our problems.
Cycling is such a good thing. I'd really like to thank Pedal Power from the bottom of my heart.
Written on: 06 Feb 2019 | Author: David Charles