Natural disasters – fires, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis, among others – can leave villages, towns and cities in ruins. Often, major transport routes are compromised, and people are unable to access basic services. At Qhubeka, we believe that bicycles can be a useful tool for first responders.
When roads are blocked or it is a problem to access fuel, bicycles provide an alternative means of transport to motor vehicles. They can get to places that cars cannot; they don’t need fuel; and they can help people to transport heavy loads and travel faster than if they were walking.
Bicycles can be used to reach people who need emergency assistance, and to transport supplies, people and even pets as part of wider disaster relief efforts.
Knysna disaster relief
On 7 June 2017, South African coastal town Knysna suffered one of the worst natural disasters the country has seen in decades, with a number of wild fires running out of control, fanned by gale-force winds. The fires destroyed numerous buildings and claimed at least six lives.
Qhubeka has sent 50 bicycles to Knysna to assist first responders – the people who arrive to provide immediate disaster relief, like fire fighters, paramedics, police and other emergency services – in their disaster relief efforts. We have been encouraged by how South Africans have pulled together to assist those affected by the fires, and hope these bicycles will play a helpful role in the greater disaster relief efforts.
Qhubeka has also donated Qhubeka T-shirts, as well as 50 blankets crocheted by women in our Blankets for Bicycles programme, and we hope these brightly coloured, handmade blankets will not only provide warmth to their recipients, but a sense of comfort during these difficult times.