“We are only sisters and have no brother to give us pick and drop for school. Our father is a laborer. Now we will go to school by riding our cycle ourselves. We do not need to request someone to drop us at school. We have no fear what people will say to us that we are going against social norms”, Zarina shared her feelings with tears of joy after receiving the bicycle from Bedari. It was exciting to see these girls getting their own bicycles. The smile was so mesmerizing that it was hard to turn away our eyes from their faces. Soon after the event, Bedari team started receiving demand for more bicycles. Bedari plans to continue this activity in other villages too.
“I am much excited to get cycle. I have been going to school by foot; it takes much time to reach school by walk. Most of the time, I was punished for reaching late at school. Now, I will reach school in time and will not get tired”. Nafeesa Iqbal a beneficiary
Bedari is keen to bring girls to school as a tool to address child marriage of the girls. Bedari is implementing a project named Building Child Marriage Free Communities (BCMFC) in collaboration with International Child Development Initiative ICDI in three districts of Punjab’ Chakwal, Vehari and Lahore.
The first batch of five girls in Vehari have received bicycles in April 2017 under the project whereas Bedari will replicate the same in other villages and project districts. The bicycles were distributed in a ceremony organized at the community to create acceptance for girls riding bicycles. There were more than 50 participants including women, children, and parents of the five girls, Child Protection Committee Members and significant personalities (teacher, religious leader, retired International Kabaddi Players and local politician) of the village.
Provision of bicycles to the poorest of the poor girls for continuing their education in these communities aims at bringing multifold impacts on the lives of these girls directly and to the families and communities indirectly. Riding bicycle will not only make school accessible for these girls, rather in the long run will enhance their confidence because of increased mobility. Enhancing mobility is the first step towards their empowerment.
“I had to borrow cycle from the neighbor to pick and drop my daughters. Now no need to do it, both daughters will go to school independently by riding cycle themselves”. Tahir Iqbal Father of Zarina the beneficiary
An increased acceptance for the girls on wheels has been witnessed in the communities. It is expected that many other families who can afford a bicycle will follow this initiative to make the agility of their girls cost effective.