Fil-Am bamboo bike ride in US for PH climate change ‘justice’

Rappler.com
Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz is riding her bamboo bike across Iowa to raise funds for InHand Abra, an NGO that expowers bamboo farmers
'BONGGA.' Fil-Am graduate student Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz  is raising funds for a Philippine NGO that empowers bamboo farmers. Photo from Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz's Facebook page.

MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino-American graduate student is riding her bamboo bike across Iowa state in the United States to raise money for climate change “justice” in her mother’s homeland, the Philippines.

Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz, a graduate student in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa, calls her ride “BONGGA” or Bamboo on New Green Ground Ang) Ride for Climate Justice. BONGGA is a play on the Filipino word for “fabulous.”

She will make the state-wide ride at the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI).

Fixmer-Oraiz purchased the bamboo frame for her bike in the Philippines and built it in Iowa with help from the Iowa City Bike Library.

The graduate student studies climate change impacts on farming communities, which earned her a Fulbright scholarship to the Philippines where she worked with local nongovernmental organization InHand Abra.

InHand Abra, which empowers bamboo farmers to compete in national markets, is the beneficiary of Fixmer-Oraiz fundraising bike ride.

The money will be used to purchase a bamboo processing tank worth $40,000, which would increase the efficiency and yield greater profits for the farmers.

Carmelita Bersalona, Executive Director of InHand Abra, thanked those who have expressed willingness to contribute to the fund drive.

“Your help brings trust in our products, joy in our family, peace in our community, and harmony with mother earth through bamboo. Dios iti agngina (thank you).”

Bamboo is not only a sustainable crop, but is especially fast-growing and provides a critical safety net for farmers facing increasingly common natural disasters.

In November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines and left a trail of death and destruction. An estimated perished in the disaster, while 1.9 million Filipinos were displaced Climate change is a major contributing factor to increased typhoon strength and sea level rise, especially to a vulnerable country like the Philippines.

You can follow Vanessa’s ride and contribute by visiting her blog. – Rappler.com