Who taught you to drive?


On my second day in Germany, I was at my deployment site for the first time. It's about 45 minutes on foot from my host family to the clinic. That's why I got a bike. I would have had to change with the bus, and it only drove irregularly. Now I was faced with a challenge because I couldn't ride a bike. In my home country, when I was little, I was always told that as a woman I belong in the kitchen. That's why I never had a chance to try it out. So I walked to work on the first day. Once there, I was asked how I got here. "On foot," I said. I had the feeling that people were surprised. ›Nina, you have to (learn) to ride a bike! they said to me. But I didn't know how. The next day I walked again and was asked again. And so on. On my first free weekend the doorbell rang in the morning. Half a dozen of my colleagues stood there. 'We'll teach you to ride a bike!' They shouted. We practiced all day and had a lot of fun. It was a great feeling to get so much support and, above all, I never fell over. On Monday morning I rode my bike to work. In the beginning everything went well, but shortly before the clinic I fell and ended up in the dirt. I didn't tell anyone about it. Then on Tuesday I didn't dare to ride my bike. My colleagues asked again how I got here. 'On foot!' I said. They encouraged me: 'Come on, dare to take the bike!' One Tuesday, two weeks later, I tried again. And it worked! I arrived quickly and safely. Since then, I've never had a fall on the way to work. I can now even drive hands-free in the woods! The success did me really good. I am much more independent now because of cycling. I drive every little distance.

My family in Uganda wouldn't believe that I learned to ride a bike. So I shot a video. My friends were filming and I was driving down the street. At the end of the street, I turned to wave to them. Suddenly a car came along. I was able to dodge, but fell. Nothing happened, but my family laughed to death when they saw the video.

I would like to tell you one more thing. For a long time, nobody at home believed that many people in Germany ride bicycles regardless of income or social status. In Uganda we barely gave German volunteers the opportunity to ride bicycles. At the time I thought it didn't suit them. They certainly don't do that in Germany. Now I've got a whole new perspective on it. I've learned what a great feeling it is to be able to drive myself. In the first few weeks of my voluntary service in Germany, I started a new hobby that I will take home with me. I will also ›allow‹ the German volunteers I meet to ride bicycles in Uganda in the future. For them an old and for me a new piece of home.