When refugees are resettled in Wichita, they are given a very short amount of time before they must get a job and become self-sufficient; this typically happens within their first three months in the United States. In doing so, one of their biggest challenges is finding reliable transportation to get them to work on time.
Some refugees will carpool once someone has saved up enough money for a car, while others rely on public transportation. But for some refugees, their only option is to walk or ride a bike to work. Bicycles can be very expensive and when a refugee is just starting out, it may take a while to save up money for one. Safety is an additional concern, as refugees may have never had an opportunity to learn about bicycle safety and may not know or understand traffic signals and laws in America.
In early 2016, members of Bike Walk Wichita approached the IRC and offered to provide bicycles to clients. Since 2016, dozens of refugees have been given bicycle safety lessons by members of Bike Walk Wichita and an opportunity to ride their bikes around town with a member of the group to practice their new skills.
“The bicycles we provide IRC clients are ones that were donated to our agency and refurbished by volunteer mechanics in our ReCycle program. This program was designed to get bicycles to people who need them for transportation so that they can actively participate in the community,” said Carey Hobart from Bike Walk Wichita. “Through exciting collaborative partnerships with groups like the IRC and others, Bike Walk Wichita works to ensure a healthy and safe community for all of us.”
The group donates not only bicycles, but helmets, lights, reflectors, and locks, which are given to each person who receives a bike. Having these items donated provides refugees with the stability of being able to get to work on time. On behalf of the staff and clients of the IRC in Wichita we are grateful for our community that has so warmly helped to make #RefugeesWelcome in Wichita.
To find out more about how you can help the IRC in Wichita please call (316) 361-2795. To find out more about Bike Walk Wichita, please visit their website.