Many people in remote areas around the globe die because they can’t reach a medical clinic or hospital in time. Travel to and from remote villages is either impossible or too treacherous at times. However, a young man is changing the way sick people are transported to hospitals in Uganda.
Chris Ategeka was only 9 when his younger brother died as Chris was helping to carry him to the nearest hospital, which was 10 miles away from their village in Uganda. Later, Chris would become an orphan along with his five siblings after their parents died of AIDS.
Chris was then sponsored by a California family for his education and impressed the family so much that they invited him to come to California to live with them in 2006. Since his arrival, he has earned engineering degrees at the University of California, Berkeley. He will also start his doctorate in mechanical engineering this fall.
While his educational career is impressive, that’s not the most impressive thing he has done. Chris is the founder of CA Bikes, a nonprofit that teaches villagers how to build bikes used as ambulances and wheelchairs from scrap metal.
“I teach you how to make it, and I teach you how to fix it,” Chris 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.”
Chris estimates that the nonprofit has distributed more than 1,000 bikes and bike ambulances throughout Uganda. It’s also estimated that only 100 bike ambulances can transport 10,000 people a month, with the average cost per bike at $600.
The nonprofit also supplies bikes for children to go to school, leading to an attendance and performance increase of 90 percent after children received bikes, according to the nonprofit.
Chris’s goal for CA Bikes is to create jobs in Uganda and to be a self-sustaining organization.