Bike ride introduces refugee women to NZ great outdoors

Centre for Defence and Security Studies tutor Nicola Macaulay joined refugee women throughout Wellington for the cycle day at Karori Park

Learning to ride a bike has never been so much fun, as these refugee women found out with the help of Massey University and other Wellington organisations.

To coincide with International Women’s Day, senior lecturer Dr Negar Partow and tutor Nicola Macaulay from the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the Wellington campus, teamed up with group including the non-governmental organisation Change Makers Refugee Forum, to offer the women new to Wellington the opportunity to try a new skill and meet others in a similar situation.

Cycle trails and simple obstacle courses were set up at Karori Park as instructors from ReBicycle Wellington, MUD Cycles and Revolve, took the women through the cycling basics.

Undertaking such an activity was a great way for the women to take their minds off their own struggles to re-settle at a time when the plight of refugees and rising nationalism dominate world headlines, Dr Partow says.

It also highlighted Massey’s relationship with the city’s NGOs and wider community, and hopefully signalled to other Wellington businesses the importance of engaging in social activism.

“Social and sporting activities are a perfect opportunity for New Zealand civil society and refugees to mutually interact, particularly at a time when refugees are being negatively impacted by global politics,” Dr Partow says

“And what better way to do this than to offer Wellington refugee communities a taste of Kiwi life and the great outdoors?!”

Wellington City Council, joined Massey, Changemakers and the cycling organisations in providing transport, equipment and time to the refugees and new migrants who hailed from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Colombia, Somalia, Myanmar, China, India, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Rwanda.

“Settling into a new culture and facing the challenges of adapting to a different way of life can be incredibly stressful for refugees who have fled conflict and destruction in their home country,” Dr Partow says.

“Participating in social and sporting activities allows diverse communities to interrelate and exchange ideas about some of those challenges.”

Ms Macaulay says the main point of the cycling morning was for women to come together and have fun.

“Agencies have come together to make these opportunities possible. It’s important that organisations do more of this and reach out to refugees and migrant populations in the current political climate.”

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