In the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands, Servas host Addie Niesthoven teaches women from Iraq, Syria and other countries how to cycle. Addie's cycling students have left their homes and their countries to escape from difficult situations like wars, repression and other hardships. Most of the women have never been on a bicycle before.
Four times a week the women practice cycling. Being able to ride a bicycle increases their self-esteem, and their new cycling skills give them a feeling of independence and freedom in moving around the city.
Addie Niesthoven volunteers as a cycling instructor once a week, and people in Haarlem are queuing up to volunteer as instructors too. The cycling classes are organized by COA, an organization financed by Dutch taxpayers to support refugees seeking asylum.
The women who learn to cycle don't yet have a permit to stay in the Netherlands, nor do they have the right to study. But they are allowed to send their children to school.
Text: Jonny Sågänger & Addie Niesthoven
L'hôte Servas Addie Niesthoven montre à Fadime, une ancienne juge d’Irak, comment conduire une bicyclette.
Photo : Martin (un collègue d’Addie)
Naima from Iraq learns how to cycle from Servas host Addie Niesthoven.
Servas host Addie Niesthoven helps Fadime, a former judge from Iraq to check her bicycle.