Howzit Inkwazi Adventurers,
Today I’d like to tell you a story about how Inkwazi Adventures, in partnership with #BIKES4ERP, are changing lives one adventure at a time. This story is based on a real-life example, of how a small donation by an Inkwazi Adventures supporter, leads to a life-changing opportunity for a young school student.
This story is about how one bicycle delivered by an Inkwazi Adventurer from Australia, leads to life-changing experience for a young student in South Africa.
This story is about Thato...
Thato lived in a rural community in South Africa. He was a bright student and enjoyed studying, but attending school was challenging. To get to school and back, he had to walk 20 kilometres each day.
One day, Thato’s school principal called him to the office. “Thato, you have to be at school on Saturday at 11:00. We have a surprise for you.” While walking the 10 kilometres home on the dusty gravel road after school that day, Thato imagined all the different surprises that it could be. Will it be a circus performance like he read about in his English handbook? Will it be a jumping castle or waterslide? He couldn’t wait for Saturday.
That Saturday morning, when Thato walked into the schoolyard, he saw a group of about 20 volunteers in blue shirts. They were smiling, laughing and interacting with the other students. Then he saw 50 bicycles neatly arranged. The bicycles looked so shiny. His heart started to beat faster. "Could one of those bicycles possibly be for me?"
There was a formal ceremony, and the school principal thanked the #BIKES4ERP team. Thato learned that the #BIKES4ERP team were all volunteers and the bicycles were sponsored by the Inkwazi Adventures community in Australia. He knew from his geography lesson where Australia was; it was very, very far away.
Then Thato heard his name being called out. He couldn’t contain his excitement as he received his helmet, goodie bag (which included a toolkit, pump and spare tubes). Then he received his bicycle. “Is it really mine?” he asked as one of the volunteers who handed him his very own bicycle.
This was the biggest gift he had ever received.
Thato walked over to his friends, got onto his bicycle and they sped around and around the schoolyard. “Oh, what a terrific bicycle this is,” he thought proudly.
Thato thanked the volunteers from #BIKES4ERP and thought about the generous people from Australia, so many kilometres away that had changed his life that day. He got on his bicycle and rode home.
He will never forget first ride home. The kilometres flew by and he was at home in less than half the time it usually took him. He wasn't even tired.
During the next few years, Thato almost never missed a school day; only when he was really ill. As his attendance improved, so did his marks. In the first year of owning the bicycle, his marks improved by 15% to give him an average of 65%. He worked harder and had more energy to study. He matriculated as the best student the school had ever had with three distinctions.
On his last day of school and with the permission of the school principal, Thato handed his bicycle to Lerato, who was one of the younger students in the school. Other matriculants like Thato also willingly handed over their bicycles to younger learners.
“I know what it feels like to walk the long distance to school. This bicycle will change your life,” he said as she excitedly received the bicycle.
The year after school Thato’s uncle, who lived in the city, invited him to stay at his house while studying at college. Thato also worked a part-time job in the evenings to pay for his tuition. He performed well and enjoyed studying to become an electrician. Whenever things were a bit hard, he thought about the day the volunteers in the blue shirts, and the Inkwazi Adventurers from Australia, gave him his very own bicycle. This would cheer him up and reminded him of how lucky he was to be at college.
After college, Thato started his own electrician business. The business was very successful and grew each year as he was well-liked by his employees and clients.
While visiting his mom one weekend in the community where he grew up, Thato decided to drive past his old school. He parked his car and walked around the schoolyard. “It hasn’t changed much in appearance, but feels smaller than I remember,” he thought to himself.
He then heard some cars pull up into the schoolyard. As he walked around the classroom, he saw a familiar sight. It was the volunteers with blue shirts coming to deliver more bicycles. He was speechless.
He walked up to one of the volunteers in a blue shirt that he remembered from all those years ago and introduced himself. Thato had always thought about the million words of thanks he wanted to say to this man, but all he managed was,
“You may not remember me, but I will never forget that day you gave me my bicycle. Thank you for changing my life.”
Since starting his own business, Thato gave some of his time and money to help the school and the community. He donated new equipment for the classrooms, painted the school buildings and started a food programme for some of the underprivileged learners. Once a month Thato and his team would do work in the community reviewing electrical wiring or installing solar geysers without charge.
Inkwazi Adventurers, just think about this story of Thato for a moment. It is truly the ripple effect of a small change making a big difference in the end. It is not just Thato out there, but Lerato, Thandiwe, Tsegofatso and all the other students who receive bicycles donated by you. You may think we are just donating a bicycle... but we are giving students an opportunity to change his or her life which in turn improves the lives of everyone in the community.
During our RESET2021 tour this year in May, we aim to donate and deliver 21 bicycles with the #BIKES4ERP team. If you would like to get involved, whether it is donating, spreading the word, or joining us on this tour, contact us now.
Together we are “changing lives, one adventure at a time”.
Cornel van Onselen
Inkwazi Adventures Leader