How bicycles are changing lives – stories from the field (Qhubeka)


Olwethu is 18 years old and lives in the Kayamandi informal settlement in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Before she had a bicycle, Olwethu had to walk about 3km per day between getting to and from school and collecting water for the household (one of her daily chores). Olwethu earned her Qhubeka Bicycle through our Connecting Partner, Vision Afrika, by achieving excellent marks in school despite trying obstacles that stand in her way.

Olwethu dreams of studying medicine, and now that she is able to get to school faster, more safely and more regularly, her dream is one step closer.

“Riding my bicycle has brought me closer to myself. It has taught me to be brave. The bicycle has changed my life,” says Olwethu.

“It is a very brave thing to ride a bicycle if you are a female because with most people there’s this gender stereotype that riding a bicycle is for men. But I’m standing proud that I can ride my bicycle as a female and show them that not only men can ride. We also can do this.”



“My name is Ntokozo and I am 13 years old. I used to walk an hour to school every day. I had to leave home at 06:00 every day to get to school on time. I now ride to school every day and it saves me half an hour. The best thing about my bicycle is that it helps me travel around Soweto a lot and my mother sends me to Usave [a local grocery store] and by bicycle it saves a lot of time. It has helped me travel around easier.

“Our community needs more bicycles because a lot of children are walking and the students come late… so the school punishes them… more bicycles will help stop that.

“My family are so happy that I have a bicycle because they can send me everywhere to collect stuff for them… we save a lot of transport money.

“When I leave school I want to be a professional soccer player… I want to play for Orlando Pirates!”


Nkwane Mogatusi

I decided to join the Blankets for Bicycles* programme because I wanted to keep busy. It provides something for the women to do here – there is a lot of unemployment.

It takes me about a week to crochet one blanket. I do both scarves and the hat in seven days. I’m looking forward to receiving my bicycle. I’m going to sell exchange it for livestock – goats.

It’s my second time getting a bicycle through knitting. I kept the first one. Sometimes I ride it, and sometimes my boys ride it. They are 16 and 25. We use it for shopping and for fun.

I am also happy to help the people who the blankets will be given to.

* Women in rural Limpopo in South Africa’s North West province register and then crochet two blankets, two scarves and a beanie, which they barter for a Qhubeka bicycle.

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