Coming out of her shell: a shy girl learns to ride and wins the race

A few months into our program development in early 2015 Fatawu, a Learn to Ride trainer, and former L2R coordinator Clara Mathews found themselves in Akete, BA, about an hour away from Techiman, working with a local teacher and Peace Corps Volunteer Sara Rosenberg. The two of them had organized a small class behind the local school where the girls could practice. All the VBP team had to do was show up and encourage the kids to keep on riding.

By day three, there were twenty girls coming every night, and one who was too shy to come out from her hiding spot behind the bushes. “Who is that?” Clara asked Sara. “That’s Angela” she told her, “she’s super shy, but has been asking everyone at school about the bikes. Give her time, she’ll come out.”

The next day as we took roll, Abdul Fatawu noticed there was an extra name. Angela had come out of hiding, and put her name down to ride a bike. She then hid behind the other girls and proceeded to watch everyone else ride. Abdul saw her hiding and went over to say hello. He asked her if she felt ready to ride, and she shook her head and went back to hiding. Sara laughed, “Baby steps. She’ll come when she’s good and ready.”

Day four rolled around, and Angela came to put her name on the roll call. As she went back to hide behind the other girls, Issak, one of the helper boys came over and offered her a bike. We don’t know what was said between the two of them, but Angela got on the bike. Her new friend pushed her for a bit, then let go. She crashed into the outhouse, ate some dirt, got up smiling, and said “Again!”

For two days we watched Angela and Issak practice and practice and practice some more until Angela was riding all on her own. Soon after, she was teaching other girls who came once they saw how much fun she was having. It was impossible to get her off the red BMX bike she had decided was hers.

When we came back for the closing ceremony and race day, Angela beat out all of the competition for a stunning first place victory in the BMX races. Like a true Championne, she graciously accepted her pin, pinned it to her trousers, and bragged about it to all her friends.

At the One Day Workshop, Angela’s Mom bought her a red BMX bike just like the one she learned to ride on. L2R visits Akete from time to time, though it’s been a year since we were there for Learn to Ride. Whenever we are in town we see Angela on her red racer tearing up the main drag, and sometimes, she even lets Issak ride with her.

 

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