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Stories From The Field - Project Coordinator, Sadie St. Denis

Many thanks to Brenna Coupland for her ongoing fundraising efforts. Thanks to Brenna and her Moon Cycle Africa initiative, all Shanti Uganda staff now have their own bike to ride to work. 

A Bike For Florence - by Sadie St. Denis

We were finally able to hand out the staff bicycles this Thursday. The bikes were purchased a few weeks ago but there was a delay in giving them out as we had to ensure the bikes were in mint condition and found the tires were going flat as they sat on our porch! I had to summon the repair man a number of times but we were finally satisfied with the condition of the bikes. The staff were very anxious to receive their bikes so as soon as they got wind that the bikes were purchased they were inquiring daily as to when they would be able to take their new bicycle home!

On the day, the staff gathered at the volunteer house to choose their bicycle and take photos with them. As not all bikes were identical, settling on one was a big decision for some. Florence, our sanitation manager and our oldest staff member, mulled over the decision for some time, accepting advice from her colleagues which only seemed to leave her more confused and less certain about her choice. She finally managed to settle on a short blue and ride bicycle and left seeming quite satisfied.

It came as a great surprise when there was a knock at the door that evening at around 9pm (by which time it is quite dark outside and considered rather late to be out), and it was Florence! I opened the door to her greeting her, and asked her what had brought her out at such an hour! She said “Madame, I want to change my bike.” I was confused and asked why she hadn’t waited till morning to come; but she replied that she was afraid the staff who weren’t able to come today may come before her tomorrow morning and leave her with no option but to stay with the bicycle she found was too short for her.

Needless to say I was pleased when we found her a bike she was certain she would be happy with and as she left she said to me, “Madame, I know you cannot see how happy I am, but I am so happy in my heart!” She said this with a great big smile on her face, and I knew she wouldn’t be back to change her bicycle again.      

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