Born in Africa Bicycle Project - Ready, set, cycle!
The Born in Africa bicycle project was launched at the start of 2014 with 180 bicycles that were donated from Germany. These were to be distributed at our discretion, to children in need, with a bicycle repair shop being opened afterward to further in an effort toward promoting sustainable business initiatives in underdeveloped areas.
After careful consideration, it was decided that children in Wittedrift would benefit most from receiving bicycles, where children walk 3 or more kilometres to school every day. The process started with BIA doing training with more than 130 children at Wittedrift Primary School. They participated in road safety workshops and bicycle maintenance demonstrations followed by practical training. 22 of the learners had never been on a bicycle before, and Born in Africa staff and volunteers proceeded to teach them how to cycle, peddle by peddle. The training took place during February and March, followed by theory and practical tests in the form of obstacle courses with road signs which the children had to pass before they could qualify to receive a bicycle. All the bicycles were checked and necessary repairs made thanks to the efforts of local entrepreneur, Stuart John Smith. Born in Africa has also been in touch with the Traffic Department and have put in a request for the creation of a cycling path in the area to ensure greater safety for cyclists.
On 13 March, after much anticipation and preparation, the day finally arrived where some 130 children received their very own bicycle! A suitable bicycle had to be selected for each child, where after they went on to receive stickers marking their bicycles, a helmet of a specific size as well as a lock where they could program in their own combination. The afternoon was then followed by a group cycling event to the container, where a celebratory handover ceremony took placed.
All in all, our commitment to this project was based on the positive impact we believed it would have on the lives of these young learners and we are satisfied that our expectations were met. Their hard work and attendance at training workshops paid off and, apart from having greater mobility and the enjoyment of cycling and getting some exercise, feedback from learners has proven that the project inspired them to take courage, work hard and given them hope for a brighter future.
There are so many people to thank for their hand in the completion of this project. First, to Wesley Andrew, Born in Africa Educational co-ordinator, and BIA volunteers and staff, for working so hard to ensure that the project was organised and carried out successfully on a local level. We are also grateful to Stephan Strauss who ensured the key sponsor, DB Schenker, which donated the transport from Wittedrift to Germany as well as the container. Born in Africa would also like to thank Klaus Schuler for his involvement in the birth of this project as well as Doctor Reinhard Schydlo for the contribution he made in South Africa. To Deon from Plett Sports for the discounts he gave us on materials needed and to Kees and Kitty Hellemans and Loer and Marnix Hellemans for raising money to purchase the helmets and locks. Finally, a big thank you to the initiators of the project, BEN bikes, in cooperation with Rotary Stuttgart International, RC Düsseldorf-Schlossturm and Rotary Plettenberg Bay, for their organisational assistance and sourcing of the bicycles. We couldn’t have done it without you! It feels good to know that what we stand for is true – together we can make a difference!