My name is Denyse Tesire. I started cycling when I was 22 years old in 2010. I am a Rwandan living in Ghana. I was born in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. I must say that my life has been a journey in two meanings; one, being a journey as people call it and secondly, in reality I love travelling and that’s how I ended up in Ghana.
In 2006, my hope for studies ended and it was mentally difficult to sit and watch them I used to know going to school and yet I can’t. Knowing that my studies ended not because I failed and quit but because I couldn’t afford it and no one was there for me, it is something that every orphan in need or poor child will always ask themselves “Why? Why me?”
However, there are always ways to get out of that dark corner where it’s believed that it’s the end. You just need to open eyes, get up and break those walls, start moving and keep moving. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got an idea of getting out of my country and go find out how life treats orphans and poor children of other countries. My easiest way out was Uganda
It was 2009 when I was sitting in an internet café trying to learn English. There was a young man who worked in there and he had a lot of ideas, I don’t know how we connected and shared ideas.
He believed in me and connected me to an orphanage where he was volunteering and I got an opportunity to learn more about the lives of orphans and poor children in Uganda. I become their sports coach, IT and French teacher. My experiences in that orphanage home matured me and I stopped asking myself why me instead, I started being thankful for how lucky I have been.
I came to Ghana in 2014, as usual there is nothing I love more than helping people in need. It was through that I got an opportunity to come to volunteer in Ghana. I was supposed to volunteer for only 6 months but the end of it, it is when I joined one Ghanaian cycling clubs (private) and there my job was born. There is an event, which takes place in Europe every year, the Global Biking Initiative. A friend asked me if I could stay and ride with them for that Event.
Who helped me in the beginning with cycling?
The greatest help was from a friend from Belgium, Lisa Trousse, who gave me a gift of a bike even I had never sat on a bike before. The young man (Peniel R.) who brought me to the orphanage Home is the one who held my seat for 3 days and that’s how long it took me to learn riding. The following days I joined Ugandan scouts’ cyclists and we rode from Kampala Uganda to my hometown Kigali Rwanda.
Speaking as Rwandan I feel super proud about the rise of the sport of cycling in my country, happy and I don’t have words that could thank enough the team behind it. Lots of love shared and hard work being done by a group of loving people. It brings me to tears of Joy whenever I watch you on social media (Team Rwanda and The Team behind it all)
I think success is something you get from a battle; Jeanne’s success not only inspires me in cycling but also in my daily life. Because of her, I no longer walk hills pushing my bike. Although I may not be on her speed, but she rolls right front of me (mentally) whenever I am climbing. I say deep in my heart, if she can do it, I can do it. She is role model for many of us.
The feeling it gives me is deep. Riding is my therapy; it is the love I can’t live without. It gives me joy. It has power that heals the inside. My advice to African women who want to cycle or be professional cyclists is that first of all you need to know that you want this and let the reason why you start be the reason why you can’t quit.
The biggest obstacle for women trying to ride a bike either recreationally or professionally is culture beliefs. This affects in many ways, beside harassments there is also having less time simply because females in Africa happen to do more domestic work than men.
Africa Rising Women's Cycling you’ve done so much by supporting women with equipment and organizing regular races could grow the sport of cycling for women in Africa.
Thank you so much for giving me a chance to share my story. Thank you for all the hard work, the support and the love.
Happy Women’s day to all female’s cyclists
Special thanks to Kimberly