Tuesday 3rd May 2022
Today is our first day in the field with our partners at BEN SA. This morning we met the BEN team at their HQ in Marina da Gama. We exchanged gifts including t-shirts, water bottles, pens and keyrings and we were introduced to some locally made cakes – Koeksister aswell as a milk tart! The team were very welcoming and were very much looking forward to working with us over the coming week. We went on a tour of the offices and bike workshop and storage area and discussed our partnership and the work that both organisations do to support community mobilisation.
In the afternoon Tim, the Director of BEN, took us in his car to meet Meshack – one of the owners of a BEC in Westlake. What an amazing man! He is such an entrepreneur with so many aspirations for the children and young adults of the Westlake township including teaching young men how to ride a bike by taking them out at 5pm everyday into the hills to practice mountain biking and he has great plans for the area of land next to his bike shop (two shipping container with an extended steel roof). He wants to tarmac it and make it a cycle park for children ages 2-5years using balance bikes so that they can learn to ride in a safe, controlled environment away from the busy road. He is hoping to get support from local people to build this and wants to have this done by the end of the year.
He has built his bike shop up over 20 years when he started with just a couple of bikes and spanners. All purchased from BEN from the first shipment we sent them in 2002. Now his ‘On bike’ shop is providing a lifeline to people in the community of Westlake with affordable transport and in his own words ‘you are changing lives’. His appreciation for the work that Re-Cycle does was heart-warming and it is sometimes only times like this when you really see what a difference we are making in these communities. Your bike donation may only mean freeing up space in your garage but here in a township in Cape Town it is changing lives every day.
In the evening we were invited to our hosts home to have a traditional Braai with their family. A lovely way to end our first day in the field.