Mormon Channel Blog

Helping Refugees Can Be as Simple as Riding a Bike

September 27, 2016

Scouts teaching people to ride bikes.

What if something as simple as a bike was the difference between helplessness and hope? For some refugees, it is.

When the Phoenix International Rescue Committee (IRC) received a donation of brand new bikes for refugees in need of transportation, all they needed were willing hands to assemble them. Boy Scout Troop 411 was happy to volunteer.

“These bikes are really critical in getting them to work, to the grocery store, and everywhere else they need to go,” said scout leader Erik Johnson.

Many of the refugees had never ridden a bike before. Each scout was paired with a refugee they got to know as they worked together to assemble a bike and practice riding it.

Gavin, the newest member of the troop, helped Jaman, from Somolia.

“He had never ridden a bike before and he was a natural! I thought it was really cool because he is from a different country and you don’t usually get to work with people like that,” said Gavin

For some of the scouts, the experience was even more personal. Euden, another scout, was born in Arizona after his parents traveled from Mexico.

“My mom was 21 when she came here and she tells me lots of stories about how hard it was for her to start over because she never had someone to help her out. She always had to take the bus and she had to find a job,” Euden explained. “I was paired with Yusuf, who is from Syria, and I can connect with how he was feeling because of what my mom has shared with me.”

After the bikes were assembled and taken out for a spin, Erik taught a bike safety class. Each refugee was received a helmet and a bike lock.

“I think there are a lot of things that you hear about refugees and I think that this experience has been just really special for the scouts because they get to put a face to what a refugee is. And when you put a face to a refugee and when you get to feel the love and the gratitude that they have for you and your help and service, it’s just really awesome,” said Erik.

Want to do a similar service project in your area? Contact one of your local refugee resettlement agencies, or visit iwasastranger.lds.org for more service ideas.