Bicycle chains free a community


The serendipity of any good deed can lead to great things. Helen Averbuch’s young son Jack handed over his bicycle to Iminathi, a boy his age, which lit a spark in the avid bicycle enthusiast Averbuch’s mind. This was the birth of the ReCycle Project, that aims to mobilise less fortunate communities with bicycles received from ordinary people.

The people of Manley Flats and Sikhululekile farming community usually have to walk around 15km every morning to get to work. The irony was the fact that they created and maintain the Manley Flats Community Trails where people enjoy cycling trails, along with 4×4 and hiking trails. However, none of their children had bicycles to ride through the pristine trails that go through their village.

The ReCyle Project receives and hands over bicycles to the elders of the community, who then decide the age appropriate bicycle for each child to own. The tightly knit community knows who owns which bicycle and they are enjoying the rise in bicycle ownership.

On Wednesday ReCycle handed over a bicycle to Grahamstown’s marathon legend Thembinkosi ‘T-bag’ Mdyogolo, who ran his 10th Comrades Marathon this year and will use his bike to train in preparation for the Soweto Marathon in November.

“I thank Helen for what she has given me, and hope people can continue this spirit of giving, because many other people in Grahamstown struggle to travel from home to work and school” said ‘T-bag’. They met by chance during the recent National Arts Festival as Averbuch was parking her car packed with donated bicycles, and jokingly Thembinkosi asked for one. Not knowing that indeed the bicycles were intended to have new owners.

The ReCycle Project has grown since little Jack’s gesture in April, and has received bicycle donations from a number of individuals and Rotary Port Alfred, supported by free labour, spares and repairs from The Motion Shop (Grahamstown) and Cycle Asylum (Port Alfred) to the benefit of the Sikhululekile Manley Flats community.

However, they have a long-term vision for the recipients to be safe on the roads and would appreciate any donations in the form of adult bicycles, helmets, pumps and other accessories and essentials. For more information, please see the ‘ReCycle’ Facebook page.

Averbuch’s favourite bicycle quote onf the page is “Our chains set us free”. She loves riding with her family and feels like that freedom of movement and speed is therapeutic.

“I make sure to ride with my good friend on Wednesday, and it always feels like a playdate!” she says.

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