Almost 500 Pick n Pay Head Office employees – in partnership with Mellon Educate – volunteered their time and skills to build a kitchen and dining area at Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy in Khayelitsha last week. With this new facility, Velokhaya will launch a daily feeding scheme for around 200 children.
A vegetable and herb garden was also planted, along with fruit trees to make the facility more sustainable.
Established to involve township youth in an after-school cycling-based programme, Velokhaya was born in 2003 in co-founder Amos Ziqubu backyard in Khayelitsha, but the clubhouse soon moved to a container on the current site and has only grown from strength to strength.
Originally encouraging young people to get off the streets and onto bicycles, the centre has now become a haven of safety and calm and a space to do homework and connect with adults who care about their future.
Today, Velokhaya provides over 135 children with a complete educational support programme. In 2015, a new building was built to house a computer room consisting of curriculum support for subjects such as maths and science, a life skills training programme and more. Last year a new hub was established alongside the building for an online video mentoring centre through Infinite Family.
Pick n Pay has been a partner of the programme since inception and has helped grow the centre through support and funding over the years.
Speaking at the Velokhaya BUILD handover on Friday, Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, director of transformation at Pick n Pay, said that this new structure will further help equip vulnerable young people in the community to succeed. “Children can’t concentrate and excel to the best of their ability if they are hungry. We are very excited about this next phase at Velokhaya.”
She adds that it was extraordinary to see the hundreds of volunteers working so hard to bring the new building to fruition and to make this a possibility. “We need to participate in our communities to make them better, and we can only do this by putting in the time and effort. It is up to every one of us to transform and change our society and it is through initiatives like this that we can do that.
“This is something close to our hearts and a way to give back to our community who comes through our stores every day,” says Ackerman-Berman.
She also praised Velokhaya’s CEO, Sipho Mona, for his effort and passion in helping to transform children from the area. Mona says that this is only the beginning “we are going to go even further to help as many children as possible”.
“Since the start of our partnership 15 years ago, Pick n Pay has been more than a sponsor but a partner to Velokhaya and the immediate community where they’ve been part of our metamorphosis and the protagonist of our change in giving our members and community support holistically,” says Mona.