When Mariangel first received her Buffalo Bicycle in early 2020, her family called it a “godsend.”
“All of our hope rests on Mariangel,” her grandmother had said. “She is a smart girl and we want her to complete her education. This is our highest priority – the only way she will be able to thrive and also support her family.”
The Romero family, refugees in Galapa, Colombia, knows that an education for Mariangel is the surest route to a better future.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck and everything came to a standstill. Alpes de Sevilla Galapa School closed, the Romero’s moved to a smaller home due to economic difficulties, and a lack of technology kept Mariangel from accessing distance learning.
“This bicycle is our sustenance, and we thank God for this.”
“Last year, I was quite unmotivated. At the beginning of the closing of the school, I had no way to listen to the classes. At home, I did not have a cell phone or internet.”
But Mariangel’s desire to thrive drove her to persevere. Her grandfather loaned her his cell phone to access classes virtually, and Mariangel completed her 5th year with the highest grade.
During the school closure, her family has used her Buffalo Bicycle to collect materials and snacks from school and to travel the 14 km to Barranquilla, where they collect the bread they sell to pay the rent.
“This bicycle has meant a great blessing for the family,” says Mariangel’s father, Jorge. Thanks to the bicycle, Jorge’s commute to purchase bread for his business has been reduced by more than half. “This bicycle is our sustenance, and we thank God for this.”
“Having the bicycle at home has made me feel very good,” says Mariangel, “knowing that I have helped my parents. Without the bicycle, they would have more work and we would be having difficulties. It makes me feel very good for my family.”
While she anxiously awaits for schools to reopen, Mariangel has graduated to the 6th grade and continues hoping to one day study music – a dream that’s possible in part because of her bicycle.