On 19 April, 350 children from Tholithemba, Qhozo, Ubulinga, and Maqoqa schools in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal, received Qhubeka Bicycles, funded by Volkswagen South Africa. The children are part of a Qhubeka learn-to-earn programme implemented in the region by World Vision South Africa. The bicycles will help them to travel to school more quickly, easily and regularly.
“The children who received bicycles today are part of our wider SHIFT programme in Bergville,” explains Tsatsi Phaweni, Qhubeka Executive Director. “SHIFT programmes aim to help shift an entire community forward using bicycles. Rather than diluting the impact of bicycle distribution by spreading the bicycles out over numerous towns, we distribute up to 5 000 bicycles into a single geographic region, which builds a new bicycle culture.”
She explains that people use the bicycles as a tool to access jobs, clinics and schools. “We see entire communities making progress due to improved access to transport. Our programmes are designed to be resilient and sustainable, so we also focus on training up bicycle mechanics in SHIFT communities, which helps to create jobs, transfer skills and ensure that the bicycles remain rideable for many years.”
Volkswagen South Africa is a long-term Qhubeka partner and has funded previous bicycle distributions into the Bergville region. “Now in its fourth year, Volkswagen and Qhubeka’s Blue Bikes Empowerment Project has given mobility to and uplifted over 4 000 children,” says Thomas Schaefer, Chairman and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa. “This initiative puts people at the heart of what we, as Volkswagen do, and aims to move people and South Africa forward. We are humbled to see the impact that these initiatives have on local communities and hope that we will continue to see more children’s lives changed through this project.”
Bongokuhle Dlamini, Area Development Manager of World Vision South Africa Office in Bergville, explains that the children who received bicycles today live on the outside perimeter of 5km away from their respective schools. This means they don’t qualify for bussed transport, which is offered to children living more than 5km from school, so they need to walk to school every day. Bicycles will cut their commute time by up to 75%.
“The selected schools are well run and disciplined, and we have commitment from the schools’ governing bodies and principals to drive a successful and sustainable programme,” s/he says. “We’re confident that with bicycles, the learners will be able to improve their school attendance and academic performance. We’ve seen the impact bicycles can make in this and other World Vision programmes.”