"My name is Mirriam Oduro. I am a mechanic."
Mirriam was paralyzed as a young girl living in Koforidua. She is now part of a co-op bike shop called Ability Bikes in Ghana. She is proving what a woman can accomplish and redefining the term 'dis'abled. Bikes for the World is sending our fourth container to this program in October 2015.
Mirriam is 33 years old. She is a mother, daughter, singer, athlete, advocate, role model, mechanic, business owner...simply put, Mirriam is a champion. She is also physically challenged. She is changing attitudes and changing lives.
"She doesn't seem to be handicapped," says Mirriam's father. She has always wanted to explore, has always been adventurous. He said, "I cannot discourage her from anything." When she puts her mind to something she goes after it.
And that's just what she did in her career. Once a hairdresser, Mirriam is now a talented bike mechanic at the bike shop she also partially owns.
When Bikes Not Bombs began the idea of a cooperative bike shop in Koforidua they reached out to disabled Ghanaians looking for a staff to not only run the shop, but own it. Mirriam approached BNB's David Branigan and said, "I want to be part of this program." And Ability Bikes was born.
Mirriam joined David and a team of aspiring mechanics to learn more about bikes and running a local bike shop. When David asked her to true a wheel she initially bent the rim. It was a complete failure. All the guys laughed at her. But then she tried again and nailed it. She was a natural.
After that, those same male mechanics came to Mirriam and asked her to help them true their rims. She said, "You are sitting there laughing at me. You want me to help you? I won't do that!" But she did. And now when a customer comes in needing a wheel repair or rebuild, the guys all point to Mirriam. She is the best wheel builder in Koforidua. She just happens to be a woman. And 'dis'-abled. Whatever that means. It certainly doesn't stop her.
African men come in the shop with a wheel or a bike looking for a mechanic. The last thing they expect is to find that in a woman. They may be skeptical when meet her, but the bottom line is she can do something they can't do themselves. They all leave with a well tuned bicycle and a different attitude.
Being part of Ability Bikes has given Mirriam a respectable job and an important place in the community. She now has valuable skills that are very needed and respected in her community. She is inspiring to youth and adults. She represents physically challenged Ghanaians as a strong advocate. Even non-physically challenged women look up to her when it comes to learning a skill and being courageous in life. She is proud of her work. She is happy. In this male dominated field, Mirriam is a true champion.Bikes for the World is shipping our fourth container to this project in October 2015. Mirriam may be fixing your old wobbly wheel in 2016! You can learn more about Mirriam in the video below.