American cycling legend Jock Boyer moved to Rwanda, Africa to help a group of struggling genocide survivors pursue their dream of a national team. Rising From Ashes follows Boyer and Team Rwanda as they set out against impossible odds and rise from the ashes of their past.
Team Rwanda started out as a cycling organization but soon took on a greater mission. Many of the riders could not read or write, lived in homes without water, electricity, were malnourished, and had never received healthcare, or even knew what a dentist was. But there was still a greater issue: These riders were all recovering from the traumatic psychological effects of the 1994 genocide.
Team Rwanda has not solved all of these problems but it is making a difference. Riders are provided a modest salary to help provide for themselves and their families, equivalent to three times the national average income. Riders are given English lessons and taught how to read and write. Healthcare is provided for the ongoing issues of malaria and water-borne diseases, and, when funds are available, the riders are given regular health checks and dental care.
While the team has tried to address riders’ physical and mental issues it has provided something greater. The riders of Team Rwanda have become ambassadors of hope. They have given the country a vision of something greater then themselves and a renewed sense of purpose.
Rising From Ashes is more than a movie; it’s a gateway of hope. But this is just the beginning. Since 2005 Team Rwanda has developed a model for caring for passionate athletes and it’s about to expand the vision. In 2012 Team Rwanda will begin the next phase, the development of Africa’s first all-black, all African team to attempt the greatest cycling event in the world, The Tour de France.
“Cycling is an excruciating sport -- a rider’s power is only as great as his capacity to endure pain -- and it is often remarked that the best cyclists experience their physical agonies as a relief from private torments. The bike gives suffering a purpose.” - The New Yorker on Team Rwanda