Velokhaya Life Academy receives critical intervention

Head of programmes, Ncumisa Makasi, Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy general manager; Sipho Mona, Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy coach Neo Mbongo; Pick 'n Pay general manager: sustainability, Andre Nel and PR and communications manager Shaun Doch were excited about the launch

Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy in E Section, Khayelitsha, now have a new kitchen, dining area, and vegetable and herb garden from where they can implement a daily feeding scheme for their children.

The kitchen, dining area and garden came as a donation from Pick * Pay and was officially opened on Friday May 17.

Velokhaya general manager, Sipho Mona, said instead of only focusing on academics and sport, the academy would now also be able to provide food to the children.

He said it was extremely difficult for any child to take part in sport if they are hungry.

The academy has 134 children who attend their programmes every day. Mr Mona said they had been hoping for such an intervention and now their dreams had finally came true.

He said in 2013 the mothers and grandmothers of these children started taking money from their own pockets to provide them with meals at least once a week on a Friday.

Mr Mona said these women would sacrifice their pension and grant money just to ensure that the children had something to eat.

But he said a few years ago the academy decided to give these women money to buy food so that they could continue with the initiative. This, he said, was simply because they felt that it was unfair for the academy to add to the women’s burdens.

However, he said these women would now be integrated into the new programme.

“We want to make a meaningful impact on the lives of these children. We want to continue providing the skills that the centre offers. We want to change Khayelitsha through our intervention. We want to build a society where children are not lured to crime or drugs. Velokhaya has now become a home.”

Mr Mona said they aim to provide children living in marginalised communities with a positive after-school activity, which builds their self-esteem and keeps them off the streets and away from social ills.

He said the centre has educational, parenting and sporting components and now there was a nutritional aspect too.

Pick * Pay general manager sustainability, Andre Nel, said the store has been supporting the academy for more than 15 years.

He said the centre has grown from being a cycling academy to an educational centre.

They provide educational support to the children in maths, science and in other critical subjects.

He said at the end of last year they added life-skills mentoring.

They planted 100 fruit trees in the new garden.

Mr Nel said they wanted to help the children reach their potential and achieve their dreams.

Coach Neo Mbongo said he has been part of the academy for two years and started as a cyclist.

The 20-year-old said he felt privileged to be part of the academy and in the next five years he sees himself as one of the well respected cyclists in the world.