Boise Life

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BoiseLife.org : Project Ride
Written By: Kip Edwards

Each year adventure seekers travel from all across the country to come visit Boise, Idaho. What seems to the occasional visitor to be a hub for climbers, kayakers, anglers, skiers, and above all bikers; to its community the city of Boise serves a much greater purpose.  Over the years, Boise has become a safe haven for refugees throughout the world, people in search of new lives; lives separate from the oppression of their pasts. Currently in Boise there are refugees from Africa, Thailand, Iraq, and numerous other war-torn countries. Many of whom have lived in refugee camps since birth. With very little formal education, these people arrive literally overnight into a world where very little makes sense. With each new arrival, the people of Boise have enthusiastically taken it upon themselves to make the cultural transition less demanding. When thinking of these people, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the needs that they have moving to a new, and completely foreign country. This would be convenient for the folks of Boise to simply ignore the new comers struggle, but then again that wouldn’t be Boise. Whether it be buying a family’s groceries or teaching them how to use their washer and dryer, the love for the new comers is unmistakable. In an effort to equip the perpetuating demographic with transportation, three students from a local high school launched a movement aptly named Project Ride. This is a project in which old and disregarded bikes are collected, repaired, and distributed to needy people around Boise.

The ‘International Rescue Committee’ (IRC), Boise chapter, alongside ‘The Boise Bicycle Project’ (boisebicycleproject.org; a nonprofit organization that embodies a radical expression of the desire to be sustainable in the biking community) and a local volunteer organization known as ‘Boiselife.org’ stepped in to lead the charge. The effort of Project Ride leads to the resurrection of 85 bikes that were recycled into the community to benefit the refugees and their families. Equipped with newly renovated bikes, a little bit of instruction, and bike helmets courtesy of Boiselife.org, these new bike owners graciously and cautiously mounted their bikes, many for the first time, and begin to pedal. With each beaming face is an astonishing reminder of the absurdity of American life and the blessings that we naively undervalue.

For many of the refugees, these bikes will be the only transportation that they will ever have. Because of Project Ride many now have a bike they can ride to the grocery store, to the doctor and even better, to work. The Project has welcomed as well as empowered Idaho’s newest residents; providing them with an opportunity to achieve the ultimate goal, self-sufficiency.

With the mantra “Enjoy, Serve, Learn”, Boiselife.org volunteers do exactly that. Founder of the local nonprofit, Josh Gilbert sums up the organization’s involvement in Project Ride saying, “It is our desire to be a part of social justice in Boise and around the world. This is more than just being a part of a project; this is the core of who we are.” A selfless attitude accurately depicting the community of Boise and intentions of the people involved in Project Ride.

The project does not stop here! There are still have many more bikes to collect, many more to fix and many more lives to change. If you would like to help, please contact Josh Gilbert at josh@boiselife.org.