The last part of the Missoula to Berlin project was focused on reporting and producing stories. Alicia Legget and I reported together on an organization called Rückenwind. Meaning “Tailwind” in English, Rückenwind is a non-profit bike shop that started up in 2015. Refugees can contact the organization and request a bicycle. Once it is their turn, refugees come into the shop and pick out a bike, repair it with a volunteer, and then get to ride away at the end of the day with their very own bicycle.
Alicia found the organization before we arrived in Berlin, but we hadn’t been in much contact with the students who run the shop… They are all engineering students and were a bit too busy to return emails. Showing up at the shop was a bit nerve wracking, this was my very first international reporting trip. I hadn’t ever had to reach out to sources in a different language, let alone show up on their doorstep and ask if I could follow them around with a recorder for the next two weeks. But, my nerves quickly dwindled. Walking into the shop for the first time, it was clear that the atmosphere was casual and friendly. All of the mechanics were happy to speak with us in English. This was somewhat of a relief because I wanted to do all of my radio stories in English, without too many voice-overs. We spent a few days in the shop getting to know the different mechanics, watching how they interacted with the refugees, and hearing an interesting mix of languages.
Eventually we sat down with a few of the founders and had one-on-one interviews with them about how the shop started and why they donate so much time to the cause.