In Rural Uganda, Homemade Bikes Make The Best Ambulances
When Chris Ategeka was 9, his younger brother died while Ategeka was helping to carry him to the nearest hospital — 10 miles from their village in Fort Portal, Uganda.
There was no quicker way to get his sick brother, who was coughing and had a bloody stool, to medical care. “I did not understand the concept of lack of mobility being the biggest factor until it got later in life. I realized how that could have helped so much,” he tells Shots.
Ategeka and his five siblings became orphans after their mother and father died of AIDS. But Ategeka, now 28, considers himself lucky.
A U.S. aid organization Y.E.S. Uganda helped AIDS orphans like him attend school. Ategeka did well. He impressed the California family that sponsored him so much that they invited him to come live with them in 2006.
Since then, he has earned engineering degrees at University of California, Berkeley, where he’ll begin a doctorate in mechanical engineering this fall. And he’s been using what he learned already to solve the problem that contributed to the death of his brother nearly 20 years ago.
Ategeka founded CA Bikes, a nonprofit that teaches villagers how to build bike ambulances and wheelchairs from scrap metal. “I teach you how to make it, and I teach you how to fix it,” he says. “If it breaks, you know what to do, and if you want to build something you think outside the box and you do it.”
Photos courtesy of CA Bikes.