Amazing news coming out of KZN: In July 2019, Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) distributed 1 000 Qhubeka bicycles over three events into Bergville, a rural town in KwaZulu-Natal. These bicycles will help schoolchildren to get to and from school (and anywhere else they need to travel) more easily, and assist community policing forums with their safety patrols.
Many people don’t know that the automotive manufacturer also has a major interest in bicycles. While VWSA may not produce bicycles, it recognises the role they can play in solving socioeconomic challenges in South Africa, as a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly and easy-to-maintain mode of personal transport. For this reason, the company has already funded more than 3 700 Qhubeka bicycles for learn-to-earn and community safety programmes in communities around South Africa.
“At Volkswagen, we believe that people are at the heart of everything we do. And as the maker of people’s cars, we are passionate about South Africans. That’s why we are committed to making a sustainable difference by investing in our communities. With education being the foundation for the future, children’s learning should not be hindered by their lack of mobility,” says Andile Dlamini, Head of Communications at Volkswagen South Africa. “The ‘Blue Bikes’ programme has been run by Volkswagen in partnership with Qhubeka since 2015. To date, 3,700 bicycles have been distributed to schoolchildren in rural regions and informal settlements to make their commute to school safer and faster, allowing them more time to focus on school work.”
Bergville is part of a Qhubeka SHIFT programme. Qhubeka Executive Director Tsatsi Phaweni says that A SHIFT is a Qhubeka bicycle project that aims to distribute 5000 bicycles into a specific geographic area for five years, with the aim of helping to SHIFT the entire community forward. “This month has been the first time we’ve expanded our bicycle distributions with VWSA beyond our scholar mobility programmes in Bergville to include bicycles for Community Policing Forums (CPFs),” she says. “This forms part of our work-to-earn programme in the region for adults, youth and those Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs). Bicycles assist with more visible and effective security patrols, boosting safety for everyone. They play a valuable supporting role in making the community safer for the schoolchildren in our programmes too. It’s exciting to see the first 100 bicycles distributed to CPF volunteers – 50 on 11 July and another 50 today.”
The thousand bicycles have been distributed at three celebratory events on 11 July, 18 July and 25 July. At the 18 July event, Qhubeka and VWSA achieved another milestone as they “filled” Maqoqa school with the final 147 bicycles required for every child in the school to have a bicycle.
“We are working to fill every school we partner with. This will ensure no child misses out and will help to shift entire communities forward by creating a critical mass of bicycle users – a new generation of South Africans whose lives have been changed with bicycles,” says Phaweni.
Images captured by Sage Lee Voges from ZC Marketing Consulting