Police, Montco organizations team up to gift bikes to Afghan refugees

The collaboration includes M+M Two Wheelers in Bryn Mawr, Lower Merion Township Police and HIAS Pennsylvania.
BRYN MAWR, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Communities in Montgomery County are teaming up to help welcome Afghan refugees to the area by giving them the transportation they need to get around -- bikes.

The collaboration includes M+M Two Wheelers in Bryn Mawr, Lower Merion Township Police and HIAS Pennsylvania.

At the bike shop, Kevin Meehan takes pride in making sure every bike that comes through his doors feels brand new.

"My dad was an immigrant from Ireland," said Meehan. "Somebody had to help him out when he came over and I feel like that's important."

He gets the bikes to fix from David Broida, a volunteer with HIAS Pennsylvania.

"One, it makes me feel good about helping other people, and the other thing, it helps me expand my world. I've learned so much about Afghanistan and Syria and Uganda and the places people come from," said Broida.

He has collected nearly 100 bikes for refugees over the past six years. Most recently, he is donating them to Afghan refugees who resettled in the Philadelphia area after helping the US in the war.

"You're unfamiliar with everything," said Nasiba Hussaini, an Afghan refugee who has received help from HIAS.

She said many people in her community are using the bikes to get to work.

"It's a really difficult for a refugee to get a driver's license so at least for the first days, or the first month and year, it's really helpful to get around," she said.

Part of the inventory for the program comes from police. Lower Merion police officers say they confiscate dozens of stolen or abandoned bikes every year and if it weren't for people like David, they'd end up sitting in lockers.

"If you're ever in this building after the summer, it's actually quite full," said Captain Gene Pasternak, pointing to one of the township's storage lockers. "Anything that's going to help them acclimate and transition to their own life easier, that's a positive."

For the new neighbors, it also feels like a piece of home.

"The best way is bicycle and everyone is familiar with that, especially the teenagers, the youths, and the men. They can solve their problems easily," said Hussaini.
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