The eyes told the story.
They were wide open. The nine girls, all members of the only road cycling club from Rwanda, were listening to the story of the slim woman who came to meet them – the first female director of a top-level men’s cycling team.
But here’s the point: the admiration was mutual. After all, those nine young women cyclists were pioneers, just like her. In their small way, they were breaking the barriers. Women scarcely ride bikes in Rwanda. It’s a men’s thing. But in BUGESERA, the cluster of villages an hour away from Kigali, the tradition took on a different shape, as the woman had to bring water from afar. Hence the bikes.
“I admire those girls,” she said. “Compared to them, I was privileged.” There was a fast bond created between her and the young manager of the team, 24-year-old Lilian Kayirebwa . “The most important advice I can give you,” said Pridham, “is that you need guts. You need to learn and do better than everybody around you.”
Her team, Israel Start-Up Nation, arrived at the village to support the cycling club, to help them with equipment, bikes, kits, and more to come.
She came out of the half-day spent with the girls with sheer commitment to developing and widening the support. The team now plans on sending professional help to the team.
Cherie: “As part of our ‘Racing for Change’ project to try to change lives for the better, I feel very proud and honoured to have been able to help support these remarkable young girls in their pursuit of becoming top-class cyclists.
“I have been genuinely amazed at the sheer beauty of this country, the kindness and humility of the people, and their love for cycling.
“I hope in some small way we have contributed to making cycling more attractive and safer for them as well as promoting sustainable travel.
“I will never forget this day.”