In a heartwarming event that brought smiles and hope to the small town of Barkly West in the Northern Cape, 205 learners were presented with brand new bicycles through a collaboration between Absa South Africa, Wildeklawer and Qhubeka Charity. The word “Qhubeka” is derived from the Nguni language and means “to progress” or “to move forward.” True to its name, the organisation is dedicated to empowering individuals by providing them with bicycles, thus improving their access to education, healthcare and job opportunities.
Made possible through Absa
This remarkable initiative, made possible through Absa as the main sponsor and Wildeklawer as the hosting partner, aims to enhance access to education, boost academic performance and improves the general mobility for these deserving learners.
All of the learners have received basic training. This involves and introduction to the bicycle, learning to ride and rules of the road. Bicycle repair and maintenance is also covered equipping the learners with the skills and knowledge needed to keep their bicycles in optimal condition. The recipients of these bicycles are responsible for the maintenance of their two-wheeled assets.
Learners provided with essential accessories
Each learner was also provided with essential accessories, including helmets, locks, pumps, puncture repair kits, spare tubes, spare brake pads and a versatile multi-tool for bike maintenance. Furthermore, two local field mechanics from Barkly Wes, appointed by the community and trained by Qhubeka, will be available to assist learners in case they encounter difficulties with their bicycles.
The bicycles distributed as part of this program have been designed to be robust and durable, with a minimal number of parts to minimise the need for repairs. This strategic approach ensures that these life-changing assets can serve the learners reliably for years to come.
Anthony Fitzhenry, a representative from Qhubeka, underscored the program’s mission to improve academic outcomes. He noted that many children in the region had to walk long distances to school, arriving tired and sometimes leading to absenteeism. By providing learners with bicycles, Qhubeka aims to ensure that students arrive at school on time, energised and ready to learn, ultimately leading to improved grades.
Fitzhenry reflected on the organisation’s journey. “In 1997, we started this nonprofit organisation and in 2004, we were officially incorporated.” He also acknowledged the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which temporarily impacted the organisation’s distribution efforts.
Gratitude for generous contribution
Cora de Kock, from Wildeklawer, expressed gratitude to Absa for their generous contribution, emphasising that without their support, this initiative would not have been possible. She also commended the tireless efforts of the Qhubeka staff in making the event a resounding success.
Addressing the learners directly, Kock encouraged them to seize this opportunity with both hands. She urged them to use the bicycles to improve their educational prospects and make their lives easier, emphasising the importance of taking good care of their new assets.
Impact on young lives
Thomas September, a representative of Absa, delivered a heartfelt keynote speech, sharing his own personal experiences and highlighting the impact that such initiatives can have on young lives. He expressed Absa’s commitment to caring for the communities they work with, and he encouraged the learners to recognise that there are people who genuinely care about their well-being.
As Barkly Wes and its young learners embark on this transformative journey with their new bicycles, the hope is that these simple yet invaluable tools will pave the way for brighter futures, improved educational outcomes, and greater opportunities for all. With the support of organisations like Qhubeka, Absa and Wildeklawer, these learners are now equipped to “move forward” and make the most of their potential.