Team Rwanda: Riding for Hope


2011 Tour of Rwanda
Mjrka Boensch Bees, by permission

Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma look at the professional cyclists Team Rwanda. They are riding for hope and bringing success to their country.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geerstma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

It is August of 2009. Hundreds of expert bicycle riders are racing in the Tour of Ireland. Adrien Niyonshuti is pushing his legs as fast as he can. He is pedalling his two-wheeled bicycle quickly. Adrien rides toward a hill. He stands up to pedal even faster. He climbs the hill and passes many of the riders around him. Adrien is riding well. On this day, he will not win the Tour of Ireland.  However, he has achieved a major record just by making it to the race!

Voice 2 

Adrien Niyonshuti was the first black African to ever compete in a professional European cycling race! Adrien is from the African country of Rwanda. Riding a bicycle is his job. He is part of Rwanda’s first ever expert cycling team - Team Rwanda. The members of Team Rwanda have survived great personal and social tragedy. But their struggles have not kept them from success. Together, the members of Team Rwanda ride to win. And their example shows the amazing power of the human spirit! Today’s Spotlight is on Team Rwanda.

Voice 1 

In 1994, the country of Rwanda experienced an unthinkable tragedy. For years, there had been political disputes between Rwanda’s two major tribes - the Hutu and the Tutsi. Sometimes there was violence. But starting in April, members of the Hutu tribe began killing Tutsis.  Their goal was to kill all the Tutsis in Rwanda. It was genocide. The killing lasted 100 days. In this short time, over 800,000 Rwandans died.

Voice 2 

20% of the Rwandan population died during this genocide. Every Rwandan knew someone that died. Many people lost their whole families and communities. This is exactly what happened to Team Rwanda rider Adrien Niyonshuti.  Adrien was only seven when the genocide happened. He told the news organization Sports Illustrated,

Voice 3 

“I lost my family. I lost my grandmother. I lost six of my brothers.”

Voice 1 

Another member of Team Rwanda lost family in the genocide - but in a different way. This member is Rafiki Jean de Dieu Uwimana. At the age of 6, he escaped from his town during the genocide. He left to live with his grandmother. He was safe, but he was separated from the rest of his family. He did not see his parents, brothers or sisters again for five years!

Voice 2 

The genocide destroyed many families and communities. It also had other terrible effects. It damaged Rwanda’s growing economy. After the genocide, it was difficult for many families to earn money. Some of the Team Rwanda riders, like Gasore Hategeka, lived as street children.  They had no homes.

Voice 1 

Many of the Team Rwanda riders first began riding bicycles to earn money. Rafiki used his bicycle to carry bottles of water around the village.  He told the news organization Global Post,

Voice 4 

“I started this when I was 13... The business was not bad but I never thought I would become a professional rider.”

Voice 2 

Gasore also started bicycling for work. At first, he worked for a potato farmer. He moved potatoes from place to place using a simple wood bicycle. As Gasore grew older, he saved his money. He used his money to learn how to ride a professional bicycle. Gasore told The New Yorker magazine,

Voice 5 

“There were men who had bicycles you could rent by the hour. This way, you could learn to ride. When I had a little money, I went, and the man who owned the bicycle would run behind and push me.”

Voice 1 

Over time, Gasore became a very good rider. And when he saved enough money, he bought his own bicycle. He joined a bicycle taxi group. He began to use his own bicycle to pull people or goods from village to village.

Voice 2 

In 2006, a man named Jock Boyer came to Rwanda for the first time. Jock is a famous bicycle rider from the United States of America. He came to Rwanda to help organize a bicycle race. Jock had an idea to build Rwanda’s first professional bicycling team. From that first race, Jock identified five riders for the team - including both Rafiki and Adrien.

Voice 1 

Over the years, the team has grown. There are now 9 riders. And Jock is always looking for new skilled riders. For example, in December of 2009, Jock was riding a motorbike on a Rwandan street. As he rode up a long hill, he passed a young man pedalling a bicycle. Jock noticed that the man was riding with great power and speed. So, he stopped the young man. Jock asked the young man if he had ever thought about riding professionally. The young man’s name was Innocent “Rocky” Uwamugu.  After completing many riding tests, Rocky also became a member of Team Rwanda.

Voice 2 

Training for Team Rwanda is not easy. Together, the team rides many kilometres to prepare for local and international races. The riders are getting better and better.

Voice 1 

For many of the riders, bicycling is a way to forget the past. It is a way to move forward in life. Adrien told the London Evening Standard newspaper,

Voice 3 

“Cycling is my job and I have to give it all of my concentration. It is the thing that helps me forget my problems. In my case, the problem is genocide and it helps me forget what happened.”

Voice 2 

Other professional teams have begun inviting Team Rwanada members to ride with them. For example, Adrien Niyonshuti also rides for South Africa’s MTN–Energade. This is the best professional bicycling team in Africa. And through his training and racing, Adrien has had great success. Adrien did not only compete in the Tour of Ireland. He will now also compete in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Voice 1 

The success of Team Rwanda has been quick. However, they are still a very young team. It can take years to build a strong and skilful team.  But Jock Boyer sees even more success in Team Rwanda’s future. It is this positive thinking that began Team Rwanda. But it is the spirit, hope and hard work of the Rwandan riders that keeps the team growing. And the Team Rwanda riders give hope to everyone who hears their story! As Adrien Niyonshuti told the London Evening Standard,

Voice 3 

“I lost my family... There is nothing I can do about it now. I have to survive this life I have been given. I have to thank God for what I have and try to believe that anything can now happen in my life.”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to and read this program again on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “Team Rwanda: Riding for Hope.”

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Have you ever experienced anything tragic in your life? What helped you?

Comments


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knight2888
said on February 13, 2012

That’s amazing. I am proud of them !

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Alfons
said on February 14, 2012

Story of Rwanda´s genocide is very sad story. I thnink it is shame of western countries, that they haven´t done anything against it. I wish better life for people of Rwanda.

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kenhieuloilam
said on February 16, 2012

We hope for good things. We live our lives for good things. Each of us is on our life journeys. Our life journeys have difficulties, challenges and sufferings. We make much effort for good things. We believe in stable life in good things. We believe in stability in good things. We build for good things. We make efforts. We can do good things.

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edwin espinoza
said on February 19, 2012

I LIKE THIS PROGRAM BEACUSE ONLY HERE I CAN LISTEN THESE STORIES THAT HAPPEND IN OUR WORLD

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edrami
said on May 01, 2013

I think this is a good history to learn how people can improve their lifes, and our effort can change our dreams in realities.

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Haes
said on May 02, 2013

War is very terrible.It brings us untold miseries and damage.

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nature187_vn
said on May 03, 2013

When I was a child,I always ride bicycle to school through 7 years.That’s really great memories about my childhood,although it made me meeting much difficult to experience a long time,but thus I had a large promoting in learning.Read program’s story like I come back childhood by riding bicycle coming to school :)

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hoaaof
said on May 04, 2013

in the world, many people have the terrible pasts but few people can rise up to change their life. i always admire persons who try to survive after the terrible things happened to them. And finally, they did it, they become a famous persons thanks to attempts, hard work, hope.

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paulo86nirisco
said on June 28, 2013

very nice program

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Mykola
said on May 27, 2014

Wonderful story, you are good team

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thuyanle
said on May 30, 2014

I think work hard is a necsessary thing to lead to sucess.

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dcabrerafigueroa@yahoo.es
said on June 01, 2014

Very nice program I love it.

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on June 02, 2014

Good Program.

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ahmet1983
said on June 05, 2014

“I lost my family…There is nothing I can do about it now “there is nothing we can do about past.So we must look at the future.