A positive model for championing equality for women, Ride 4 a Woman is a 300-member community tourism program that is located in Buhoma Village on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, which is more famously known as the home of the endangered mountain gorilla. The main objective of the project that started in 2009 is to empower the local women who like many women is rural Uganda are the cornerstone of the community, without any of the perks.
Women in Buhoma carry the burden of raising the children, looking after the home, and working the fields – a full time job that leaves them with no time to improve themselves by learning a new skill, or to start a business and earn the much needed extra income that they need to keep their families afloat.
Visitors to Ride 4 a woman will love the pleasant welcome and atmosphere of the place – jovial women sharing their stories with the constant hum of the busy sewing machines in the background.
The program was started by a local couple that began with renting bicycles to tourists for tours of the forest and surrounding communities. Using the money that was made from renting bikes, supplemented by donations from a group of Australian tourists, the program was expanded in 2012 to include a training centre, the Bwindi Women’s Community Centre where women are trained in new skills including sewing, bicycle repairs and basket making. The program is currently fundraising to open a fully equipped bakery where skilled volunteers can teach the local women about baking and how to earn an income from it.
Sewing – the sewing program that operates on a ‘train a trainer’ basis has currently trained over 50 women who make several every day products at the centre such as brightly coloured table clothes, trousers, shorts, aprons, bath robes, blankets, iPad and laptop sleeves, pillow cases, napkins, oven gloves and shirts
Rent a Bicycle – The centre offers a fleet of bicycles for rent to ride through the gorilla highlands and forest, neighbouring villages and plantations. The 3hour Forest Trail goes through the park headquarters to the River Ivi, while the 2hour Village Trail crosses to the heart of Buhoma village along the village footpaths. Bwindi is one of the most spectacular birding areas in Uganda and there is no shortage of fascinating birds to watch on a biking tour.
Accommodation – Guests can now spend the night at Bwindi Community Homestay that is run by the community of women. The facility located next to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers 8-enuite rooms that are a great budget option for gorilla trekkers, and guests that want to volunteer at the centre or take in the culture of the area.
Basket Weaving – The women of Buhoma make an assortment of handicrafts, but most famous are the brightly coloured and intricately woven baskets. Basket weaving is already a traditional pastime of the women in this part of Uganda, but the community centre has helped to improve their skills through training sessions that teach new techniques and styles, giving their products more value. Once trained, the women train other women, and make their own baskets that they can sell directly or through the Ride 4 A woman shop.
Location – Buhoma Village in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kanungu District