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Economic Empowerment & Catholic Social Teaching: The Case of Ride 4 A Woman, Uganda, East Africa Jenny Kim

Located in Bwindi, Uganda, Ride 4 A Woman is a life-changing community-based business in East Africa that connects its business model to match the principles from Catholic Social Teaching. The primary reference for Catholic Social Teaching will come from Pope Francis's Laudato Si. Focusing to support the number of women that pass through, this charitable organization helps to support local women with HIV, those who have or are experiencing domestic violence, and are in poverty. Housing is available for the women to stay in and with a whole community surrounding these women, skills like pedal sewing, basket weaving, dancing, singing and drumming are also taught. In addition, Ride 4 A Woman has a bike rental program where the women can rent bikes to go to their family, any shops, and different places in the community. The handmade memorabilia that are made from the skill classes are sold at Ride 4 a Woman; all of the proceeds made go to support and empower the women in Uganda. Like Pope Francis emphasizes in the Laudato Si, it is through love and commitment for each other that we can create a community that fosters relationships based on love, respect, and support for both men and women.

In the Laudato Si, Pope Francis emphasizes the importance and power of love. Despite any other hardships in the world (like those that the women in Ride 4 A Woman fight for), love always comes out as the most powerful. It brings together groups of people where the "walls of the ego are torn down and the barriers of selfishness overcome" (L.S., para, 149). To be one unified unit, is through breaking down these walls and barriers, overcoming our selfish needs, and opening up ourselves to others that we learn how powerful love is.

Ride 4 A Woman focuses specifically on women in need and with the prevalence of women's rights being seen everywhere around the world, Pope Francis uses the Laudato Si to show how all human life is dignified, including women who are in need. The topic of women's rights is seen everywhere around the world. It is by pushing women's equality in education, health care, relationships, identity, and mostly life that we learn and recognize that all human life is dignified and important. Women today are still being denied some of these rights, despite the fact that women's rights are human rights . Surrounded by so much violence, greed, and selfishness in the world, everyone must and should have rights. All human life is dignified, including women's, and it is through love, support, and respect for everyone that human life is kept sacred and a basic need.

Ride 4 A Woman fosters the relationships to be for and with others. This organization help to break down walls, empowering the women in Uganda. With the development of new skills, love, and involvement in the community, these women work to embody what Pope Francis believes is essential in the Laudato Si. The goals and purpose of this charitable organization follows along with the seven main principles of Catholic Social Teaching, working to spread love, respect, and support for those around them.

Catholic Social Teaching is defined by 7 primary principles: life and dignity of the human person, call to family and community, rights and responsibilities, option for the poor and vulnerable, dignity of work and rights of workers, solidarity, and care for God's creation. Ride 4 A Woman embodies all 7 of these principles, helping to celebrate life and support those in need.

Life and Dignity of the Human Person

In a world where greed and selfishness is present and so common, it is so important to respect human life and recognize how sacred and diverse it is. Whether it is through simple acts of kindness, like opening a door for someone, or through a charitable organization that specifically supports those that are in need, human life is a gift that God has given us all and is something that we must treasure.

Pope Francis emphasizes that human life is a gift - something that we must treasure. Through the support that Ride 4 A Woman provides for the women in need, the rights and needs of human life is being celebrated.

...Because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement" (L.S., para. 5)

Call to Family and Community

The care for a person not only includes ourselves, but those all around us. Pope Francis emphasizes that the care for ourselves and our environment around us is always through a "social approach...so as to hear both the cry of the earth and cry of the poor" (L.S., para. 49). Ride 4 A Woman focuses on that, specifically working to better ourselves and the community in Bwindi, Uganda.

Pope Francis emphasizes that the connections we have with one another connects as one big family. Despite any differences we may have, we work to strengthen our relationships with others. Ride 4 A Woman, using the ideas of Pope Francis's Laudato Si, is a whole community that is built to care for ourselves, our community, and our family.

We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family" (L.S., para, 52).

Rights and Responsibilities

Human life is sacred and has to be protected by human rights. Women's rights are human rights. Ride 4 A Woman's fight to protect the women in Bwindi, Uganda work to foster the love and support needed to ensure that human life is kept sacred.

Pope Francis states that we must appreciate and keep human life sacred. Once we lose this value, we end up harming society. Ride 4 A Woman's actions of valuing all human life, even to those who feel they have lost a part of them, and building new skills, helps to continue uniting human life.

we have to dare to speak of the integrity of human life, of the need to promote and unify all the great values. once we lose our humility...we inevitably end up harming society..." (L.S., para. 224)

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

Ride 4 A Woman works to help those who need it. Focusing specifically on women with HIV, those who have or are experiencing domestic violence, and are in poverty, these women are shown support and love from those at Ride 4 A Woman. In the Laudato Si, it states that the focus on the needs of the poor and the weak and vulnerable must be fostered in order to strengthen the idea that we must all take care of each other, despite any differences.

We are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social." - L.S. (para. 52)

Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers

Work is more than a way to make a living or a profit; it is a way to show and continue the work of God. Ride 4 A Woman does not stop with housing and protecting the women in need, but rather grows and continues as the woman in this community learn new skills and continue the work of God's creation despite any hardships that come their way.

Pope Francis strongly believes in the idea that humanity must continue working to build together a home that we all want to live in. Through continuing God's work, whether through learning new skills that Ride 4 A Woman teaches or through actions that help to sustain planet Earth, humanity has the ability to come together to build a home that is beautiful, loving, and cared by us.

Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home" (L.S., para. 13)

Solidarity

Solidarity is all about loving those around us: our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our friends, our family, and even our enemies. It is knowing and recognizing that we are all part of one family. Despite any physical, emotional, or socioeconomic difference present between us, we are one big family. At Ride 4 A Woman, despite specifically helping those with HIV, those who were or are being domestically abused, or are in poverty, they open their doors to everyone.

In the Laudato Si, Pope Francis states that the basic parts of a society is being one family. Solidarity is all about loving those around us, despite any differences. The support that Ride 4 A Woman gives to the women in the community is love and welcoming them into a family, despite any hardships, economic challenges, and physical differences.

Outstanding among those groups is the family, as the basic cell of society" (l.S., para. 157)

Caring for God's Creation

Pope Francis's Laudato Si emphasizes the importance of recognizing the needs and troubles in the world. Through the lack of safe and clean water, decreased biodiversity, and climate change, "the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth" (L.S., para. 21). It is so important to take care of our planet, our home. Ride 4 A Woman works to support others but to take care of our planet - starting with a bike rental program that the women in these program can use to get around to different stores, their family, and the community. Through different skills taught and the bike rental program, Ride 4 A Woman implicates little changes to help the planet we live on.

THE BEAUTY OF PLANET EARTH

Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another. Each area is responsible for the care of this family." (L.S., para. 42)

I had the opportunity to go to Uganda last year and had a chance to visit Ride 4 A Woman. Even as an obvious outsider and a person that came from a rich background compared to some of the people there, I felt welcomed. When I stepped foot onto the Ride 4 A Woman's community, there was a group of women dancing and singing. Seeing a bunch of Americans step foot into their community, the women not only welcomed us and allowed us to relax, but taught us a traditional dance, a class that is available for the women in need. It was through the love and community that the women there showed me that emphasized how important and how much this organization follows the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. My sisters in Uganda that taught me how to dance are thousands of miles away - yet everyday, I feel the love and support that they gave me through teaching me a dance and me to them through the purchases of micro finances to support them. We are all one family, one who loves, respects, and supports those around us.

In the Laudato Si, Pope Francis emphasizes the power of love. It is through love that we show how we follow the basic principles of Catholic Social Teaching. Ride 4 A Woman embraces these values, showing love for the community, for the women in need, for the planet, and for ourselves. Love has no boundaries or labels.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

Ride 4 A Women embodies all of the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. It is through the organization's bike rent program, micro finance, traditional Ugandan baking and cooking, agriculture, weaving, dancing, singing, and drumming skills taught to the women in Bwindi, that love and respect is spread and how the principles of Catholic Social Teaching is emphasized throughout the community. It is through these women that I have learned how important it is to show love and support. Love, support, and respect for everyone, like the love shown through Ride 4 A Woman, is how we follow all values of Catholic Social Teaching.

Credits:

Created with images by Jeff Ackley - "untitled image" • truthseeker08 - "hand united together" • T. Chick McClure - "untitled image" • ian dooley - "untitled image" • jill111 - "family sunset beach" • Markus Spiske - "untitled image"

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