On 15 November, 12-year old Mitchel Walls attended a Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle handover in Orange Farm. But Mitchel wasn’t just an average onlooker; she was there to see the delivery of the 10 bicycles that she funded through her fundraising efforts.
To raise money for Qhubeka and ABBA house, a charity for abandoned babies, Mitchel climbed Kilimanjaro with her mom and her granddad. She chose to undertake the climb to mark her 12th birthday.
At the handover, Mitchel was able to meet the children who have received the bicycles she has funded and see their faces light up as they got to ride their new wheels for the first time.
“I was amazed when I saw the bikes, children and the amount of smiles on the kids faces,” she says. “It was great to see people being so appreciative over something I take for granted, to see a place where not only the kids but the parents and grandparents are appreciative. I thought it was a once in a lifetime experience.”
The recipients are part of Qhubeka’s Bicycle Education Empowerment Programme (BEEP), implemented in partnership with World Vision South Africa. The children who receive the bicycles commit to improving their academic results and school attendance for a period of two years. Once they have done this, the bicycles officially belong to them.
Bicycles make a massive difference in these children’s lives. In South Africa, there are 16million schoolchildren. Of these, 12million of these children walk to school, and 500 000 spend more than two hours walking each way, meaning that four hours of every weekday is spent walking to and from class. Girls are particularly vulnerable, as they are often expected to stay home and help with chores, thus missing out on important school time.
In communities where BEEP has been implemented in Zambia by World Vision Zambia and Qhubeka partner, World Bicycle Relief, girl recipients showed an attendance increase of 28% and an overall academic improvement 59%, while 89% of all the recipient children could get to school in an hour or less and the vast majority reported feeling much safer while travelling.
Mitchel specifically requested that her bicycles be given to girl schoolchildren, and by choosing to dedicate her Kilimanjaro climb to Qhubeka and raising funds to pay for 10 Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles, she has changed 10 girls’ lives for the better. The world needs more 12-year olds like Mitchel Walls.
Like Mitchel, you can use your upcoming event or sports goal to fundraise for Qhubeka, and help us to change more lives through the power of bicycles.