Charity begins at our ‘new home’

9 weeks to #joberg2c

We’re into single figures, and I wish that I could tell you about the triple-figure training rides that I’ve been doing. But sorry, I can’t. I thought I was almost back on the road a week ago, but on Sunday the lurgy struck back with a vengeance. My personal physician (the wife, that is) said that I’d been too impatient to get going again, so it’s been a bit downhill this week, in a physiological and psychological sense. The good news is that my bike is ready, and come what may, I will be riding it on Sunday.

Instead of droning on about preparations, let me tell you instead about the charity that I’ve decided to support (and I hope you will too). I am riding for Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy (yep, follow the link), a cycling charity (naturally) based in Khayelitsha, just outside Cape Town. My South African compatriots will know all about Khayelitsha, but for my foreign friends, here is a brief history: Khayelitsha (which means “our new home” in Xhosa) is one of the shameful results of apartheid, a place where people of colour were dumped en masse after being moved from their homes in Cape Town and its surrounds. It has grown to be one of the largest black townships in South Africa, a place with few services, few jobs, and where crime is rife. Velokhaya was set up to give youngsters in this environment a chance in life, an opportunity to break out of the cycle of deprivation.

The charity’s website explains this best: “Approximately one third of South Africa’s population is under the age of 15 (and more than 50% of the population under 25) and a large percentage of these young people live in areas affected by high levels of poverty and unemployment, which makes them particularly vulnerable to social ills such as crime and substance abuse. The Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy was founded with the intention of using the sport of cycling to involve children living in these under-resourced communities in a positive after-school activity and to give them the life skills they need to deal with the challenges they face.

“As a Khayelitsha-based organisation, we are only too aware of the extent of the challenges faced by our township youth and we know that the skills our children need to deal with these challenges won’t necessarily be those they learn at school. We chose the sport of cycling as the medium because it was a sport which township children wanted to participate in – and one which, until the formation of the Academy, had excluded a large percentage of South Africa’s population.”

I first came across Velokhaya through Conquista magazine, and its editor, Trevor Gornall. Immediately I thought that it was the type of cause that I would like to support, so I will be telling you more about Velokhaya and banging on at you to be generous. For those of us who are privileged to live in peace and security, it is the least we can do to give youngsters a chance to enjoy some of the advantages that we take for granted.

And lastly, some pice of the new baby, which arrived home today:

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