#QhubekaActivists: Paul Larivière

We’re profiling our awesome #QhubekaActivists – people who have signed up to raise funds for Qhubeka in a range of different ways. If you’ve raised funds for us and would like your story shared here, please email wendy@qhubeka.org. If you’d like to find out about how you can fundraise for Qhubeka, check out our Fundraising Page.

Paul Larivière is a Qhubeka fan living in Belgium. He’s a great sports supporter and has been following cycling for many years.

Paul and Manuela Larivière

Paul and Manuela Larivière

“Over the years I got to know a lot of people (staff and riders) of the professional team Team Telekom, which later became Team T-Mobile and then Team Milram,” Paul explains. “After that team stopped its involvement in professional cycling, some of its riders like Gerald Ciolek and Linus Gerdemann transferred to Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. I automatically took an interest in how they would do in this relatively new team and in what way they could contribute. At the same time, I have always been a big fan of the South African cricket team, the Proteas, since my other big passion is cricket.”

Paul is a former President of the Belgian Cricket Federation, Full MCC member and Level I Coach. He established the Junior School Programme in Belgium to promote cricket amongst youngsters. His passion for cycling and his interest in South African sport led him to support Qhubeka.

“When I started to read about the mission of Qhubeka in South Africa and as part of the bigger picture (as World Bicycle Relief’s programme), I was immediately captivated by it and started to look for opportunities and possibilities to contribute to this wonderful development programme,” he says. “The fact that the professional cycling team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung requires its team members to subscribe to Qhubeka’s mission statement and philosophy helped too.”

Paul says his goal was to motivate as many people and organisations as possible to contribute towards the Qhubeka mission. He began by spreading the word and finding ways to sell beaded Cycle Force bracelets in aid of Qhubeka.

“Two major starting points were crucial to get things off the ground: press coverage was an obvious one (and my efforts were widely covered in the newspapers and on TV and this is an ongoing process),” Paul explains. “I also got in touch with one of Flanders’ major bike shops, Chamizo, and with Wolvenberg, wholesaler of Castelli (supplier of the Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung outfit) in Benelux. They assisted me in distributing the bracelets. By selling a lot of these, we generated enough money to cover the purchase of more than 20 Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles, and still counting!”

Paul also got De Maretak on board in selling the bracelets. De Maretak is a day and residential care home in Duffel, near Mechelen, Belgium, which supports and cares for children and young people with life-limiting conditions. Paul’s daughter, Margot, resides at De Maretak, which is one of the reasons he decided to approach the organisation. By selling the bracelets, De Maretak managed to raise funds for two Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles.

“I must stress the fact that De Maretak absolutely deserves a special mention because they themselves are also to some extent dependent on charity and the fact that they succeeded in contributing two bikes is just awesome,” enthuses Paul.

In another fundraising effort for Qhubeka, Paul managed to get a Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung shirt, autographed by the team’s sprinter Theo Bos, which he auctioned on eBay. It raised enough money to pay for another Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle.

His top tip for others wanting to become Qhubeka activists is to use the press and to partner with other charities in raising interest and growing awareness. “The media still is the number one way to get the exposure required to start any initiative,” he says. “Also make sure you are well informed about your cause.”

Paul also developed “bike boxes”, which he uses to showcase the bracelets and draw attention to Qhubeka.

De Maretak nursing staff member, Elly, Lukas, Lin with Arne (11) and Paul's daughter, Margot

De Maretak nursing staff member, Elly, Lukas, Lin with Arne (11) and Paul’s daughter, Margot

Paul Larivière at De Maretak Nursing Centre

Paul Larivière at De Maretak Nursing Centre

One of Paul's Qhubeka "bike boxes"

One of Paul’s Qhubeka “bike boxes”

Paul has plans to continue supporting Qhubeka. “We have only started and hope that in the coming months this effort can develop further,” he says. “Basically, this is an ongoing process, not depending on seasons or trends, and I have noticed that the selling of the bracelets is by far the most straightforward way to generate money and motivate people as they get something concrete (and beautiful) to show for the small amount in return.”

Paul has also been following the Tour de France, where Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung is competing – the first African registered Pro Continental team to do so. He was invited by the team to join them at the start of the third stage in Antwerp, where he had the opportunity to meet the riders and management and take some great photos.

Paul meets Anthony Fitzhenry, Qhubeka Founder

Paul meets Anthony Fitzhenry, Qhubeka Founder

TdF - Antwerp 06.07.2015 - Meeting Edvald Boasson Hagen TdF - Antwerp 06.07.2015 - Meeting Jacques Janse van Rensburg  TdF - Antwerp 06.07.2015 - The Erithrean fans overwhelmed their big hero Merhawi Kudus

While the stage ended in a terrible crash, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung went on to win the polka dot jersey in the sixth stage, and took a stage win in stage 14, on Mandela Day.

TdF - Antwerp 06.07.2015 - The fans

Thanks, Paul, for your energetic, creative and continuous fundraising efforts! You are making an amazing difference in the lives of schoolchildren in Africa by helping us to mobilise them with bicycles.

You can keep up to date with Paul by following him on Twitter @Maneblusser25.

Become a fundraiser like Paul! Find out more about fundraising for Qhubeka by clicking here.

TdF - Antwerp 06.07.2015 - The Erithrean fans - not very many but surely the loudest!