Recently, Specialized Bikes, one of the largest bike brands in the world, donated 16 bikes to survivors Love146 serves, as well as provided a training on how to maintain them. Biking adds to the meaningful, therapeutic and restorative activities in the Love146 safe homes. Here’s how Dr. Gundelina Velazco, our Director of Asia Survivor Care, describes what a bike can mean for survivors of child trafficking:
Biking for ordinary children could mean skill, fun, adventure, camaraderie with other biking children, prestige, or status. But for Love146 children, it has an additional, deeper meaning. For these children, who have experienced extreme deprivation, hardship, brutality, and being in bondage, the moment of biking is a symbolic moment of flight from all that, and hence freedom, exhilaration, finding their lost, rejected, or suppressed self, as the moment of biking is only between them, the bike, the wind, and the direction they want to take, and for now they are in control.
Here’s how Josephine, a survivor in the Round Home, describes the significance of bikes in her own words…
When I was not yet here in the Round Home, I learned how to bike on my own by borrowing the bicycles of my friends. At first, it was really difficult to learn to ride a bicycle. I got bruised in the process. I even stumbled and fell several times but I kept on rising. Eventually I learned and all my efforts were worth it.
So, I remember that when the Specialized Bicycles arrived at the Round Home, our eyes were wide open and all of us had smiles on our faces. I felt my heart leap when I saw the bicycles. I felt excited. I felt that something beautiful would happen if my fellow clients and I would do biking.
It was here, in the Round Home that I learned to bike a mountain bike, because of Specialized Bikes. The bicycles in the Round Home help realize our potential because we were given the chance to do something that we are capable of doing and at the same time it feels great to do biking.
When my fellow clients and I are biking either inside or outside the Round Home, we are all happy and we forget all sadness.
Every time I pedal the bike, my heart starts to pound and my legs are pushing me to go faster and faster. Then, I would feel the wind in my face and as soon as I stop pedaling and coast down the other side, a smile magically spreads across my face, even though sweat comes out all over my body. Also, biking with my fellow Round Home girls adds to the happiness because I know that I am sharing an experience with persons whom I know value me as a person. It also makes our relationship and connection with one another stronger because when we bike we look like a very happy family doing a very cool activity.
I also learned that biking is a form of exercise so I am very happy because it will help me get into better shape and become healthier as well. Actually, I also encouraged my fellow clients to bike so that they will also stay healthy.
Aside from that, biking relaxes me and gives me time to think. Sometimes it also makes me forget my problems because again, biking makes me happy. Also, using the bike helps me to reach my destination at a very short period of time. I also felt that I accomplished something very great when I arrived at a place using a bike just like an assignment that I was able to prepare before I go to school. I am also happy because despite my young age, I can bike like older kids.
I also learned that the techniques in biking are balancing and steering. I allow my body to lean slightly into the curve to maintain balance while using my hands to steer. I also let my body do the turns and the front wheel will also make the turn automatically.
The bike follows my lead. In biking, I am the one leading my own life, whichever way I want to take it.
Biking seems ordinary but it touches my life in a different and unique way. I do have a lot of memories riding a bike, which I will never forget.