For Kenyan girls, free bikes mean escape from sexual assault — and a better education.

Growing up in rural Kenya, Dianah had two choices for getting to school: She could walk three miles or hire a "boda boda" motorbike, if she had the money.

Neither option was particularly appealing.

The long walk was especially difficult in a culture that expects young girls like Dianah to handle their domestic duties in the morning before heading off to the classroom, while the boys are free to wake up and go.


And even when if her parents could afford to pay for a ride from the so-called "motorcycle men," there was still a risk of assault involved in the country's makeshift transportation service.

"These men who ride the motorcycles, they want to get the girls, they annoy them and then meet them here outside. They normally stop you when you’re on the way [to school]. They tell you that they want to offer you a ride, but when you go with them, they will take you and refuse to..." Dianah explains, trailing off.

Dianah. All photos provided by World Bicycle Relief, used with permission.

Even when the trek went well, the threat of rape and bodily harm followed Dianah and her friends into the classroom and hurt their education.

Teen pregnancy is known to have a damaging effect on education, and teen birth rates are high in Kenya. The looming menaces of child abuse, poverty, and other traumatic events can also have a lasting impact on the development of a young mind. This all compounds with stress and the exhaustion from waking up early to take care of chores, and, of course, walking several miles while avoiding assault.

The administration at Dianah's school does what they can. But it's not easy. "We have involved the parents in driving their children, but it is not always affordable," says Dianah's vice principal, Monicah Ndun'gu. "We also have guidance and counseling sessions in school where we talk about issues of pregnancy and how the girl can be able to protect herself."

But something changed during Dianah's junior year, and all it took was balance and a little legwork.

Dianah was one of 100 students at her school to receive a free Buffalo bicycle courtesy of World Bicycle Relief, a nonprofit that aims to mobilize and empower underprivileged communities across the world with the help of bicycles. 70 of the bicycles went to girls to help compensate for the gender inequalities in the country, with the other 30 going to the boys in the classroom.

For Dianah's part, she's able to arrive extra-early at school to prepare for the day, and she feels more energized and less tired than before. She even stays later after school to finish her homework or work on projects, and she doesn't have to worry anymore about walking home alone at night. "When you have the bicycle, you pass by motorcycle men very fast and they won’t ride after you," she says.

"Performance records have really improved in the last year, for both boys and girls, since they got the bicycles. It has also reduced absenteeism of both. And many of the girls are happier now that they are able to get to school on time, and to home on time, too," adds Vice Principal Ndun'gu, saying that she's observed a noticeable reduction in student pregnancies, too.

"When I have the bicycle, it’s like flying through the forest," Dianah says. "We can ride together with friends on the bicycles and we are stronger."

Before the bicycle, Dianah's life was mostly schoolwork, chores, and walking between them. Now, with faster commutes, Dianah and her friends are able to spend more time together. She has an easier time socializing with the boys in her classroom, many of whom she sees as brothers and who she also says have been challenged in exciting ways by the newly energized girls in the classroom.

Her family is just as excited about these new two-wheel opportunities. Dianah lives on a farm plot with her parents, a younger brother and sister, and three orphans. "At home, I normally help my parents. Now when they want to send me to the market, I use the bicycle and there are no more distractions on the way," Dianah says.

"They’ve seen me change, because I want to really use the bicycle for their help and also for my health."

Now a senior in high school, Dianah is anxiously awaiting the results of her exit exams.

"After my results, I would like to study as a lecturer in education," she says. She even wrote a powerful poem about her passion for schooling, called "Education for All":

"The right to education is for all, even for a girl
People may wish for sons, but I’m glad I was born, born a girl child
Challenges may be more, but the blessings will be bigger
You educate a girl
You’ve educated a nation
It’s only education that equalizes a rich man’s daughter
And a poor man’s daughter
As I cycle my Buffalo Bicycle to school every day
I know, my future will be great."







As Dianah says, education is a great equalizer for gender and poverty.

These are both complicated issues, of course, especially in rural African areas like the one where Dianah lives. When it comes to these socio-economic-cultural struggles, it can be hard to isolate and solve the root of the problem.

But sometimes something as simple as a bicycle, or even a washing machine, can treat enough of the symptoms to open up new opportunities and let these students shine. That's pretty amazing.

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Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Courtesy of Back on My Feet
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Having graduated in the top 10% of Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) cadets nationwide in 2012, Pat Robinson was ready to take on a career in the Air Force full speed ahead.

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True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

It sounds like a ridiculous, sensationalist headline, but it's real. In Cheshire County, New Hampshire, a transsexual, anarchist Satanist has won the GOP nomination for county sheriff. Aria DiMezzo, who refers to herself as a "She-Male" and whose campaign motto was "F*** the Police," ran as a Republican in the primary. Though she ran unopposed on the ballot, according to Fox News, she anticipated that she would lose to a write-in candidate. Instead, 4,211 voters filled in the bubble next to her name, making her the official Republican candidate for county sheriff.

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Maybe before the events of 2020, you were taking your toilet paper for granted. But chances are, you aren't anymore. But aside from the shortages earlier in the year, there are larger problems with traditional TP. Specifically, it's pretty bad for the environment. That said, thanks to a company called Reel, it doesn't have to be. That's because their toilet paper is made from bamboo stalks and designed with environmental sustainability in mind.

If you've had any experience with environmentally friendly toilet paper in the past, you might be tempted to stop reading. But contrary to the prevailing stereotypes about eco-conscious TP, Reel is renowned for its quality and comfort -- so much so that the brand has sold more than a million rolls of the stuff and counting. And it's done so without contributing to the monstrous devastation of forests that's associated with the traditional toilet paper industry.

Every roll of Reel toilet paper is made from 100-percent bamboo, and 0 trees. But that's not where the brand's environmental consciousness ends. It even extends to the packaging, which is plastic-free, right down to the tape. No dead trees, no environment-choking plastic, no inks, no dyes, and none of the infamous synthetic compound bisphenol A. Best of all, if you use it, there's no TP-related guilt about the damage your daily bathroom habits might bring to the planet.

Why is using bamboo to make toilet paper better than using trees? For starters, it's the fastest-growing plant in existence, and can grow as much as three feet in just 24 hours. It's harvested once a year and never needs replanting, making it an essentially infinite resource compared to trees, while also using up 30-percent less water. And as you'll feel for yourself once you give Reel a try, bamboo paper is much softer than other papers made from recycled paper or wood fiber, while also retaining bamboo's natural tensile strength, which is said to be even stronger than some types of steel.

Reel Premium Bamboo Toilet Paper

Reel

Reel even has ply-counters covered, too. If you were worried that bamboo toilet paper doesn't give you the thickness and quality you're accustomed to in TP, think again, because each role is generally proportioned with three ply for extra softness. In other words: you're not having to sacrifice comfort for the good of the planet, at least not as far as your toilet paper is concerned.

And Reel's environmental friendliness isn't the only good reason to make the switch. The brand also cuts off a slice of their profits for the funding of sanitation projects in developing nations, so you're helping that important cause with each roll you buy (in addition to helping reduce deforestation and pollution).

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Your toilet paper doesn't have to kill trees or choke the environment with bulky plastic packaging. There is a better way. To find out more, check out Reel at its official site, and say hello to a new era of environmentally friendly toilet paper that's also comfortable, durable, and a pleasure to have around.

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