A day out with Qhubeka at Vosloorus

Last friday, the team got the opportunity to visit a community in Vosloorus as part of the Qhubeka initiative.

Qhubeka is the main co-sponsor on our team. In fact, it’s what we really stand for. You can consider Qhubeka as a charity initiative, but I think of it more as a community development project, aiming at long-term benefits, hence the slogan “”hand-ups not hands outs” and the logo with hands reaching for “bikes”. Qhubeka works in conjunction with the Wildlands association to develop disadvantaged and poor communities. The deal is simple: kids grow trees, or collect waste. Once the trees grow 30cm high in can be traded at the “treesh0p” for R5 or bartered for other goods such as bikes, food, water tanks, building goods…etc. waste can also be similarly traded. Thus not only is it a source of much-needed funds, it also serves a community conservation purpose. A bicycle could be traded for a 100 trees, Qhubeka essentially provides these bikes to the communities. We donate 5% of our total prize money to Qhubeka after each race, but our real goal is to raise awareness and support for this organisation…

Now, when we got to Vosloorus, we kept driving deeper and deeper into the township until eventually we were surrounding by little wooden and steel “huts”, that had no electricity, running water and no sanitation. Clearly these people had very little, but there was something different. The sight of small rubbish dumps that were cleared and recycled and plastic bottles with small trees growing out of them, was evidence of Wildlands work in this small village.

One of Wildlands

We went to see the work of a few of the tree-preneurs. Most of them where growing over 1000 trees as at a time.

Growing trees in recycled plastic bottles

The Wildlands and Qhubeka projects are life changing initiatives. When Anthony Fitzhenry, the head of Qhubeka, was approached by an individual that bartered for a bicycle, he said to him this Bicycle will change my life. Anthony asked him why did he think so? His response was that in the mornings he had to wake up early to complete all the chores, such us fetching water, before walking to school and back everyday, an hour walk each direction, and then complete homework and all other chores before sunset…

Now that he has the bike he could cover the same distance in 15min, giving him an extra hour and a half each day to focus on school work. He expected his grade to raise from the 60s into the 80s with the extra time available, which would be enough to earn a Scholarship into Medschool.

We also asked some of the tree-preneurs what their plans was…One said that she would trade it for a laptop and a bicycle for her child, while another said to buy a washing machine and a generator. Clearly this initiative enriching peoples lifes.

No running water, Rian water being collected to water the plants.

Qhubeka doesn’t merely give a bicycle away and expect the community to sustain these bikes. Not only is the Qhubeka-bikes extremely simple, strong and easy to fix, with a limited number of tools. Qhubeka has also set-up workshops, providing spare parts, in these communities and trained individuals out of these communities to become bike-mechanics. The benefits are 10-fold, not only is it creating jobs, but it also is easily sustainable.

Finally, we handed out 6 bikes to Wildlands facilitator’s in the community. We hope that our visit alone, would inspire more people to get behind the Wildlands initiative and grow more trees and collect more waste, for the better of their own communities.

a deserving Wildlands facilitator with his new Qhubeka-bike

You can contribute to the Qhubeka initiative, by either:

1. SMS’ing your name to 44445, and  donate R5.                                          or;

2. Switching over to a MTN Qhubeka package. MTN will automatically donate 5% of your monthly phone bill to Qhubeka at no extra cost to you. Phone 083 900 3325(DEAL), and ask for a Qhubeka deal

More info can be found at:

1. www.qhubeka.org

2. http://www.wildlands.co.za/activities/ekhuruleni-initiative/

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