A new year has started and we at the Immigrants on bikes (IoB) -project are happy to share with you that we will continue providing our services around Finland also in 2021. If you have lived the last three years without hearing about us, you can find more info about our project here.
We wanted to start the 2021 by interviewing one of our coaches Marthe Osoko, aka Ella. She is an 18-years old Congolese young woman who arrived in Finland only in 2019 and started to coach with us last year in Vantaa.
When I asked Ella about her journey till Finland she replied “I don’t even know how to explain myself how I came to Finland because it’s a big, long and sad story. I didn’t even know that there is one country calling Finland in Europe in my life and I don’t have a family member or a relation in Europe. I normally say that my coming to Finland is a God’s grace…”
However, of her demanding past when she heard from her “finnish mom” about our project searching for new biking teachers, aka coaches, in Vantaa she immediately wanted to jump in and after an half day training she was ready to teach new people how to ride a bike. In her words “The coach training and the biking courses in Vantaa have changed my life a lot in good ways. I learned a lot of good things from there for example: to not be ashamed when I’m speaking in front of people that I have never known before , to feel free when I’m speaking in front of people who are older than me. Because I was the youngest there”
Other coaches have been very happy with our new recruitment because of her happy mindset, the eagerness to help others and with her wide linguistic skills (8 languages) she helped communicate with participants that did not know how to speak Finnish, English or Swedish.
Ella stated when she first started to coach she was a little stressed and felt insecure, but rapidly started to enjoy coaching as the provided help turned into visual results and in outburst of joy when participants finally learned how to bike. The coaches’ help is a very tangible one. She also told us that coaching helped her integrate in the new society, growing a better self esteem of herself and through the coaches network she found new friends and acquaintances.
During these first three years of the IoB-project, more than 500 women were taught to cycle, 15 municipa
lities participated in our training sessions with a total of participants of almost 850 people and around 70 coaches were essential to achieve these results.
In 2021 we will continue to teach new people to bicycle around Finland and to ride the bike safely and following the traffic rules and signs. As a new feature we will also organize courses using city bikes in order to introduce this great, economical and ecological service to everybody and thus lowering the threshold to a daily use of the city bikes.
If you want to be part of this inspiring project that offers a life changing skill to its participants or you think that your city needs this support for its citizens, please be in contact! (email@example.com)