Bike will make life eas­ier for mi­grants

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS ETHERIDGE

Joelle Kusimw­eray was 5 years old when her fam­ily had to flee their home in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo.

‘‘Congo wasn’t safe. There were wars go­ing on, the gov­ern­ment was try­ing to take boys to make them fight for the coun­try,’’ the 18-year-old says. ‘‘My Dad said: ‘We have boys’. My broth­ers! He wanted them to es­cape from that.’’

Her fam­ily trav­elled east to Uganda where they stayed in a refugee camp for al­most five years.

‘‘The life there, wasn’t good at all.’’

Af­ter living in poor con­di­tions for so long, they were even­tu­ally of­fered the chance to move to New Zealand in 2008 – a coun­try they had never heard of.

‘‘In Africa you kind of have to fight for your­self,’’ she says. ‘‘ You can’t get any sup­port from any­one.

‘‘You ba­si­cally have to go there and find your own food, your own place to live. So com­ing to New Zealand is a re­ally huge thing in my life.

‘‘There are peo­ple left in Uganda in bad con­di­tions, no food, no wa­ter.’’

They stayed at the Man­gere Refugee Re­set­tle­ment Cen­tre un­til they moved into their Pt Eng­land home.

Joelle has be­gun study­ing

it re­ally to be a nurse at the Manukau In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and her sib­lings are in school.

Trans­port within the Pt Eng­land com­mu­nity will be a bit eas­ier for Joelle and her sib­lings.

The fam­ily will re­ceive one of the 30 bi­cy­cles from the Christ­mas Tree of Bikes, which was lit up on Auck­land’s wa­ter­front over the hol­i­days.

Or­gan­ised by ChildFund, the tree rep­re­sents one of the big­gest ob­sta­cles for chil­dren of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries – how to get to and from school.

‘‘It’s go­ing to help trans­port-wise as my two broth­ers go to high school, and they have to bus ev­ery day. It is money saved,’’ Joelle says.

Last year ChildFund col­lected more than 100 bikes, both whole ones and spare parts, used to con­struct the Christ­mas tree.

The bikes were stored at Blue Box Stor­age One­hunga free of charge.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions manager Kiri Carter says about 30 bikes are in good con­di­tion and will be in­vested back into Auck­land’s refugee com­mu­nity.

Left­over bike parts from the tree were do­nated to a church group to re­cy­cle.

Photo: JESS ETHERIDGE

Get­ting mov­ing: Pt Eng­land res­i­dent Joelle Kusimw­eray will re­ceive a bike for her fam­ily from ChildFund.

Green glow: The Christ­mas Tree of Bikes was lit up on Auck­land’s wa­ter­front over the Christ­mas hol­i­days.

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