Yvonne Houweling is a soigneur for Team Mtn-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. Soigneur comes from the French word meaning “to take care of” and soigneurs do just that – they take care of riders, from escorting them to the races, ensuring they are fed, massaging them after races and generally ensuring they are looked after.
Yvonne is from Holland and has been working with the team since January 2013. “I really like the team and, of course, Qhubeka,” she says. It is a great way to mobilise people in Africa.” She also believes that the Qhubeka recycling projects assist in keeping communities clean and tidy as the project participants collect recyclable waste.
Yvonne has been raising funds for Qhubeka by telling her massage clients about the recycling and tree-growing initiatives that allow people to earn Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles in South Africa, and then asking them to make a donation. She has a collection jar in her office where people can make a contribution.
Before Easter, she also sold “paastakken” (Easter branches) to raise funds for Qhubeka, handing out a Qhubeka leaflet with each one she sold. Paastakken are a traditional Dutch Easter decoration. They are willow branches decorated with Easter eggs, a bit like an Easter tree for the home.
“People are happy to help,” she says. “A few weeks ago, a little child came to me at the race and gave me five euro for Qhubeka. So I gave him a bidon (a water bottle used by the cyclists. My goal is 1000 euro, so I have work to do. But I am happy to help and every euro is one more that Qhubeka can use.”
Yvonne says her family also supports her, as does her fiance, Rien, who proposed to her at a cycle race in Holland in March 2013. They are due to be married in October this year.
Currently, Yvonne has already raised enough money to fund one Qhubeka bicycle. If she reaches her goal of 1000 euro, she will be able to fund 7.5 bicycles. She is a great example of how individuals can find interesting ways to raise funds for Qhubeka, not necessarily just through sporting events.