December 08, 2013
Mohammed with Geoff Lowther, a volunteer at the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project, who is collecting bicycles for the asylum seekers in the northern suburbs who have no means of transport. Source: News Limited
A COBURG volunteer has teamed with an Iranian asylum seeker to provide much-needed transport for some of Melbourne’s most isolated.
Geoff Lowther, a volunteer at the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project, and Mohammad Zadeh are collecting and repairing second-hand bicycles for residents seeking asylum.
Mr Lowther said the idea spawned after they discovered a bicycle could solve Mr Zadeh’s isolation and transport problems.
Mr Zadeh, a 30-year-old former professional swimmer and factory worker, is living in a Lalor unit on a bridging visa having fled Iran fearing religious persecution.
With great sadness he left behind his wife and seven-year-old daughter, who he fears will not be able to join him in Australia.
But the new project has provided him with a positive way forward.
“There may be girls here from refugee families who would like a bike but can’t buy one. I can’t do anything for my daughter, but maybe I can do it for another girl.”
Mr Lowther said a lot of asylum seekers were living in the northern suburbs in cramped conditions and barely survived on about $6 a day.
“Isolation, depression and a lack of transport are major problems,” Mr Lowther said. “They are so spread out all over the place, so to get a community connection is very difficult.
“Providing them with a cheap means of transport will allow many to get out and about, breathe some fresh air, meet other people and get to doctors’ appointments.
“Access to a pushbike has the power to bring a little sunshine into great many lives.”
Mr Lowther said they had gathered about 20 bicycles but needed many more, particularly men’s bikes.
The pair were thrilled to receive a $500 donation from the Rotary Club of Craigieburn and hoped others would help.