The Qhubeka community, which includes major metros, business supporters and individuals around the globe, came together to raise funds for another 350 bicycles for schoolchildren in Orlando, Soweto.
A total of 350 more schoolchildren in Orlando, Soweto, have recently received Qhubeka Bicycles as part of the ongoing bicycle distribution programme in the region. This community public private partnership between City of Johannesburg, Qhubeka and various corporate and individual donors and fundraisers shows how partnerships can maximise impact. The children are from Selelekela Secondary School, Orlando High School, Lofentse Girls High School and Bona Comprehensive School.
“This distribution event is made possible by City of Johannesburg and our grassroots fundraisers around the world,” said Qhubeka Executive Director, Tsatsi Phaweni. “The City has committed to an ongoing bicycle programme in the region, which has included constructing bicycle lanes and funding bicycles to help schoolchildren and adults with personal transport. With a bicycle, access to schools, clinics and jobs improves. Fundraisers who support Qhubeka through our relationship with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka then matched the City’s funding to double the number of bicycles being distributed. At other distribution ceremonies, the funding has come from businesses.”
Phaweni said it’s a wonderful example of how partnership can help move entire communities forward. “People from the public, private and civic sectors in South Africa and beyond have supported this programme, and because of that, these children who received bicycles will be able to travel to school faster, attend extramural activities and have more time to study and play.
“We are very excited to be distributing more bicycles to the residents of Orlando in partnership with Qhubeka and their partners,” said Nonhlanhla Makhuba, MMC for Transport in the City of Johannesburg. “We believe that the more bicycles we distribute in a particular area, the greater momentum and sustainability there is for the bicycle promotion programme and the safer it is for individual cyclists.”
A bicycle mechanic has been trained in Orlando to provide maintenance and services to the bicycles when required, which has created a new micro enterprise opportunity. Bicycle recipients each contribute a nominal bicycle maintenance amount to the school, which funds the bicycle mechanic’s stipend.
Fundraisers who contributed towards the bicycles distributed in Orlando include:
- Graham Spiro, the top fundraiser from the 2017 Qhubeka 5000 campaign, who attended the distribution ceremony
- Stephanie Barker, a student who rode from Cairo to Cape Town and raised more than R100 000 for Qhubeka;
- Scott Mitchell, a professional photographer who auctioned off his cycling photos at the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka training camp, and raised funds for 34 bicycles;
- Svein-Erik Vatle, a cyclist from Norway who donates a Qhubeka Bicycle every month
- The Girona Gala, an annual dinner party event organised by Nathan Haas (who rides for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka) and Laura Fletcher (of Cassette Media), which raised 26 bicycles in 2017;
- Alison Gayler, who produces and sells tea towels with Eurosport commentator Carlton Kirby’s grand tour race ‘codecs’ printed on them, who has raised funds for about 40 bicycles through sales; and
- Ruth Duke, a UK-based Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka fan who donates a bicycle for each World Tour win the team scores.
“We love how diverse our supporters are,” said Phaweni. “The Orlando distribution event is a good example of how our global community helps us to change lives with bicycles in South Africa. Our relationship with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Africa’s first World Tour cycling team, has introduced many new supporters to us, and we are grateful to the team for the way they ride to raise awareness and funds for us.”
Gayler explained the idea for the tea towels came to her after seeing through Team Dimension Data what a huge difference bicycles can make in people’s lives. “I approached the Eurosport commentator, Carlton Kirby, who gave his permission to use his grand tour data codecs to go on the tea towels. The fabulous cycling fans are thrilled to buy them to support this wonderful charity. We are all so fortunate in our lives, so we are really happy to be a part of making a difference to the lives the bicycles change,” she said.
Barker noted that she is wary of fostering dependency through charity, but that she believes providing a person with a bicycle is a better option than a simple “handout” (especially given that Qhubeka programmes generally include a work-to-earn or learn-to-earn element). “It empowers,” she said. “Having spent four months on a bicycle, I know full well what an amazing means of transport it can be. I wouldn’t have gone to many of the places that I did in a car, or an airplane. I hope this doesn’t sound too cliché, but having a bike has changed my life. I feel humbled, and lucky to have been able to do the Tour d’Afrique. If the money I have raised can give someone else even a fraction of the enjoyment I have got out of my own ride, I cannot ask for more.”
photos Marike Cronje