The Electric Bike For Disabled People In Refugee Camps

One disabled refugee innovator is changing lives with spare parts.
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Olga Lexell
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One disabled refugee innovator is changing lives with spare parts.

We often don't think twice about the way we get around. It takes me about ten minutes to drive to my office in a car that I own, followed by a ten minute walk from the parking garage to the office building. However, when I had a broken leg, my commute changed much more than I expected -- it took me longer to get ready in the morning, to climb into my car and make sure my backpack and crutches were properly stowed, to get out of said car, and then 2-3 times as long to walk to my office building. I started to pay attention to the ways the world doesn't take disabilities into account -- my apartment building has several stairs and no wheelchair ramp, there was no disability accessible parking outside of my building, and the crosswalks around my office area were incredibly long with short walk signals.

But I only had to do it for a few months. A lot of disabled people are permanently disabled and have to get around every single day despite the obstacles presented to them by the society we live in. And as a society, we're pretty lucky, because there are places with even less disability access. What happens when you're disabled and live in a refugee camp with only the most basic amenities?

That's where Safwan Harb comes in. He left Syria with two disabled family members who struggled to get around their new refugee camp's unpaved roads. Safwan himself also struggles with a disability and decided to collect spare parts to assemble a battery-powered electric bike to help those with mobility struggles.

We need more people like Safwan.