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Five fingers on one raised hand. It’s a logo that has become central to our thinking over recent months, a symbol of the Qhubeka nonprofit that provides bikes to those who need them most in South Africa. Having seen their work firsthand in November 2018 at the pre-season Team Dimension Data camp, we’ve taken a closer look into how we can make a bigger impact — not just in cycling. As producers of technical cycling apparel, we settled on a very special, limited run of jerseys, each delivered with a handmade musette — the latest craft project in the Qhubeka initiative.
To celebrate the launch of the very first Moving Forward Jersey in support of Qhubeka, here are five things we truly love about Qhubeka. From thumb to pinkie, we’re truly proud to stand alongside this hand.
1 — The Thumb: Strong and opposable, the thumb is central to the function of the hand, and so was our realization that through Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka we can do so much more. While we love professional cycling (and cycling in general, too), we saw an opportunity to really make a difference via Qhubeka and our partnership with Team Dimension Data. Elite sport, which is where our roots lie, can teach us wider values, and there are no limits to the health benefits that come from partaking in it, both physically and mentally. But beyond this field, the scope for the bicycle is far, far grander. Making a social impact through cycling is at the core of the South African nonprofit’s aim. We want to be part of this.
2 — Index Finger: The packaging of this jersey is an integral part of the project. Qhubeka’s latest program is to launch a sustainable initiative to produce many thousand musettes — part of their successful “work-to-earn” range of programs for adults (alongside its learn-to-earn programs for children). New for 2019, this musette production forms part of their pledge to move people forward with bicycles. In this case, it puts the seamstresses’ wellbeing at the center of the project. For the women who make up the bulk of the production team in the rural Groot Marico area in the North West province of South Africa, the project sees them “work to earn” in a program that is already paying dividends across South African communities. “The musette program was conceived last year as a potential self-sustaining project for Qhubeka to supply Team DD with the coolest musettes in the peloton,” explains Bruce Anderson from the charity. “Supply and costs were always going to be inhibiting as the team needs 1000s, but this genesis project has been made possible by ASSOS’ decision to supply all supporter jerseys in musettes.” Employees hand-make the musettes using a South African fabric called Shweshwe — each musette has its own bold design and directly benefits the individual who produced it, which we love.
3 — Middle Finger: Bicycles actually make a difference. Owning a bicycle in rural areas of South Africa, where there is little access to public transport, can drastically change a person’s life. We had the honor of witnessing the joyful handover of bicycles during our time in South Africa at the first Team Dimension Data training camp in November 2018. And during that same celebration, Qhubeka’s founder, Anthony Fitzhenry, recounted stories and explained how the mobility that comes with a bike allows children to have a childhood — precious minutes of playtime on either side of the school and working day – something that many of us take for granted. Bicycles help people to get where they need to go, whether that is to school, a clinic or a job.
4 — Ring Finger: The bikes are earned and not given. Qhubeka recognized that simply handing out bicycles wasn’t going to work. By creating programs and incentives to study or work in various disciplines, individuals clock up credits that amount to a hard-earned bicycle that’s then valued far more than a simple handout. The effects of striving to receive a bicycle in this manner are overwhelmingly positive for children and adults: reducing a child’s commute time by 75%; decreasing absenteeism; putting individuals on the route toward a better education and a childhood with time to play; and permitting adults to travel quicker to clinics, work, or markets, thereby boosting their earnings and/or health. There’s also another crucial project pillar at Qhubeka, which is the charity’s objective to ensure emergency supplies can reach disaster-stricken areas by bike — without the transport infrastructure of many countries, rural regions of South Africa can often be hard to reach, and that’s where bicycles play a pivotal role.
5 — The Pinkie: Irrespective of the charitable support that this jersey and handmade musette bring to Qhubeka, we think that it’s a damn cool jersey. Coming in limited colorways with a bold yet clean layout, this is a high-performance ASSOS jersey that’s certainly going to make a statement in your local group. What’s more, it’s a conversation starter and that perhaps counts more than anything. This is so much more than just a jersey. So, on those days when your motivation is low and your legs are grumbling at your local crit or coffee ride, you know that by sporting this particular jersey you’re doing so much more than just riding a bike.
This is an initiative we want to pursue alongside Qhubeka, because the simple machine that we love can have such a huge impact on those in need. We hope that you’ll get on board, too.
Up first, pink for the Giro d’Italia.
Follow along #bicycleschangelives