Today is a big day for 158 people in Kylemore in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Not only are they getting to meet the professional cyclists from Africa’s first World Tour team, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, but they will also take ownership of their brand new Qhubeka bicycles, which they have earned by committing to growing indigenous trees as well as improving their school attendance and performance.
This distribution will see 100 grade 6 and 7 learners at PC Peterson Primary School receiving bicycles, as well as 47 grade 11s from Kylemore Secondary, eight Wildlands staff and three KylemoreSecondary staff.
These learners and staff members are part of a Qhubeka project called SHIFT Education, run in partnership with Wildlands. Other parties involved include the Stellenbosch Municipality, the Western Cape Department of Transport and local bicycle shop, BMT, which has been providing safety and maintenance support.
The bicycles being distributed today have been funded through the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka campaign, #BicyclesChangeLives, which aimed to raise funding for 5 000 Qhubeka bicycles in 2015, and again in 2016. The team’s sponsors have also assisted in contributing towards this target. To date, 10 500 bicycles have been funded through the #BicyclesChangeLives campaign since its launch for distribution into work-to-earn Qhubeka projects around South Africa and in Eritrea.
The Kylemore SHIFT Education project aims to connect learners with bicycles, thereby helping them to access school, the library, shops, health clinics and opportunities more easily. Within the community, 253 learners have already received bicycles and a bicycle mechanic is currently being identified for training and accreditation, with the aim of helping learners to maintain their bicycles well into the future. Qhubeka hopes to entrench a cycling culture into the community, where bicycles have previously been scarce.
“Who knows – there may be some future Team Dimension Data riders getting their first bicycle here today,” says Qhubeka Executive Sarah Phaweni. “We believe that bicycles change lives and connect people with opportunities, and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is proof of this. With access to a bicycle comes access to opportunities and we are grateful to the team and all its sponsors, as well as Wildlands and local government, for recognising this and working with us to connect more people with bicycles. We believe our SHIFT programmes help us to move communities forward, which speaks to our name, Qhubeka, which is an Nguni word meaning “to progress”. Bicycles have the ability to shift individuals, communities and our country, and we hope everyone attending this bicycle distribution today gets a sense of that."
“These bicycles have contributed significantly to the environmental sustainability and socio-economic development of this community, not only through providing an eco-efficient form of transport, but also by providing a safe way for the learners and community members alike to travel to work and school. Wildlands recognises that this would not have been possible without the partnership with Qhubeka,” says Wildlands’ Project Manager, Lydia Williams. “Thanks to Qhubeka for helping us move towards our vision of a Sustainable future for all.”
By the end of 2017, Qhubeka hopes to have distributed 3 000 bicycles in the Dwarsriver valley which includes Kylemore, Pniel and Lanquedoc. The historically disadvantaged region remains afflicted by poverty and lack of transport, and while there are many projects underway to empower and uplift the Kylemore community, Qhubeka believes that bicycles are a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly transport solution.
Qhubeka and Wildlands have partnered successfully for many years around tree-growing initiatives, whereby people (known as “Tree-preneurs”) grow indigenous treesto barter for bicycles or other livelihood support items. The Kylemore SHIFT Education programme sees this partnership extending into schools, with learners also committing to improved attendance.
Tyler Farrar, one of the riders at Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, says that the bicycle distribution is a unique experience. “It is a chance for us all to see the result of the charity’s work and to put everything we talk about into action,” he says.
Well known South African rider Reinardt Janse van Rensburg at Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka adds, “We don’t get the chance to do bike handovers ourselves very often due to our season’s schedules, so to do a distribution with the full team and to see what impact Qhubeka’s work has in the communities is a special experience.”
The difference bicycles will make
“My name is Akiem, but my friends call me Skinny, and I’m 12 years old. Every morning I get up 7 o’clock and I walk to school. I’d love a bike because all my friends have bicycles and I’d love to ride with them. But mostly I’d love a bicycle because my mom jogs every night and I’d love to ride next to her as she jogs.”
“My name is Janechia, but my friends call me Neesha, and I’m 13 years old. A new bicycle would be so helpful for me as I don’t live on a taxi route so if I have to go anywhere it’s really difficult for me. And If I do get a bike I can do so many more things with my school friends, like go down to the bicycle track.”
“My name is Danswer and I’m 14 years old. I get up at 6:30 every morning and I get to school at 7:45. I love playing sport, especially rugby. With a new bicycle it will be easier to travel from home to school so that means I can practice harder and for longer, without having to worry about it getting too late for me to walk home.”
“My name is Megan and I’m 12 years old. It takes me an hour to get to school every day. I normally have to take a lift with one of my school teachers. If had a bicycle then I could ride to school everyday and not have to leave when my teacher leaves, then maybe I could do more sports at school.”
Qhubeka helps move people and communities forward by connecting them with bicycles.
Through your support, Qhubeka uses bicycles to connect families to schools, clinics and jobs. Communities with limited transport have restricted options, but bicycles are tools of change. With access to wheels comes a connection to opportunities.
That’s why Qhubeka’s name is an Nguni word that means “to progress”, “to move forward” – because bicycles help people to travel faster, further, carry more, be fitter and access more options, including healthcare and educational facilities. Bicycles also save people money they would have had to spend on other forms of transport. For more information, visit www.qhubeka.org.
From keeping children in school to helping whole communities to create new economic opportunities, bicycles are a simple, affordable and sustainable solution to some of Africa’s most pressing social problems.
What began as a project to help a few schoolchildren who had no transport to school has evolved into a model to provide simple, affordable transport to connect communities to schools, clinics and jobs.
About Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was founded in 2007, steadily working its way up from a regional team to now being a World Tour team with bases in South Africa and Italy. It’s also known as Africa’s Team due to its focus on helping African talents to the world stage of cycling. The team races to raise funds for Qhubeka to connect people with bicycles in Africa. For more information, visit www.africasteam.com.
Dimension Data ( www.dimensiondata.com) uses the power of technology to help organisations achieve great things in the digital era. As a member of the NTT Group, we accelerate our clients’ ambitions through digital infrastructure, hybrid cloud, and workspaces for tomorrow, and cybersecurity. With a turnover of USD 7.5 billion, offices in 58 countries, and 31,000 employees, we deliver wherever our clients are, at every stage of their technology journey. We’re proud to be the Official Technology Partner of Amaury Sport Organisation, organiser of the Tour de France, and the title partner of the cycling team, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.
About Wildlands Conservation Trust
Imagine a world where the poorest of the poor could feed themselves, clothe themselves, educate themselves, house themselves – by growing and bartering trees and collecting waste, all while conserving their natural environment and heritage.
The life changing work that Wildlands does is structured through seven programmes carried out across 12 Community Ecosystem Based Adaptation (CEBA) clusters in six provinces. Our programmes are complimentary and all contribute towards our core focus of building robust ecosystems that underwrite human wellbeing and sustainable development. They are focused areas of intervention aimed at sustainable natural resource use and the development of a green economy. For more information, visit www.wildlands.co.za.
Source: Qhubeka Press Release