BENTONVILLE, Ark. — In America, bikes are used for hot summer days, fun pastimes with friends and of course exercise.
But, imagine riding your bike and being hit three times, and one of them being intentional because riding a bike as a girl is illegal in your country.
Afsana Nawrozi doesn’t have to imagine because that was her reality in Kabul, Afghanistan. In order to train for the Afghan Women’s National Cyclists Team, Nawrozi had to borrow bicycles and dress as a boy because the Taliban didn’t allow women to ride bikes.
“She has advocated on Afghan TV for and girl’s right to ride freely and most recently she’s joined us in the United States on a student visa to complete her school here,” panelist Sara Drew said of Nawrozi.
The disguise worked until it didn’t, Afsana was struck by a car, breaking her collar bone and destroying the bike.
This event led to her evacuation from Afghanistan, but she didn’t do it alone. Afsana had help from a friend who emigrated to America.
Farid Noori is a University of Arkansas MBA student and founder of Mountain Bike Afghanistan. Noori says he originally created the organization to show the beauty in Afghanistan, but the purpose of the organization has shifted because of people like Afsana.
“First of all it’s about people, right? And using the bike as a tool to connect people from different cultures. This can be with Afghanistan this can be with any other country," Farid said. "And I think that Northwest Arkansas is starting to attract more and more people. And for us, it’s important because I’m an international student and I picked up cycling here and I wanted to use the bike as a tool to help more Afghans enjoy our country."
Noori is now using the organization to help relocate and find asylum in the U.S.
Canopy NWA is also helping relocate people looking to evacuate and emigrate to the U.S.
“And so the issue in Afghanistan is still there while the right now the media has kind of dropped the issue. The problem is still continuing. And even before this Afghanistan was in the top three countries with lots of refugees,” said Khalid Ahmadzai with Canopy NWA.
Khalid adds that Canopy is expecting to relocate 50 to 120 more Afghan families in Arkansas soon. The organization also said that it’s always looking for co-sponsors to help with family resettlement.