BEN Cape Town visit by Alex, a Re~Cycle volunteer from London - January 2010

Alex was visiting some of the workshops and bike users, for a chat and some feedback and to take some film footage.

Email of thanks written afterwards:

Hi Louis and Andrew [Chair and Director of BEN],

Many thanks for taking the time to meet with me (and my partner, Dan) yesterday.  From a personal perspective meeting with all at BEN and others who were involved in one way or another, was really interesting and very important as not only has it given me background knowledge as to how the bikes are used in SA but it has made me even more dedicated to the cause having seen at first hand the difference a bicycle can make to someone‚s life. This knowledge will most certainly help me when I return to the UK to do more work with Re-Cycle. In the end, we met with Beverly, Jeff, Ismael, Sinead (a pupil at Rocklands School) and Mr Abrahams a teacher at the school, unfortunately Meshack wasn't around when we dropped by.

I thought you would be interested to hear what they each had to say in brief:

Jeff did not have any bikes to sell but had bikes in for repair. He believes that bike sales / repairs have gone down rapidly because of bike hijacking in the area. Jeff said that a lot of his sales are to people from Malawi or Zimbabwe who take the bikes back to their countries.

Ishmael, on the other hand, is extremely busy with repairs and sales. He says he can sell three bikes a day and he also has a number of repairs to
do too. Whilst we were with him a number of customers stopped by tocollect bikes or enquire about repairs/parts. As Louis said, Ishmael is extremely entrepreneurial and is evidently making a great success of hisbusiness. Although, despite his vicinity to the school, he commented that he does not provide bikes for the school children but rather to people in the community - they could well be parents of the children from the school but it seems that very few children are riding to school.

Whilst we were with Ishmael, we also met with Sinead a pupil at Rocklands School and the project coordinator (a teacher at the school), Irvan
Abrahams. Both were extremely grateful for the help BEN had given them but would love more bikes! Unfortunately, Sinead's bike had been stolen - she did have a lock for her bike which required a code to unlock the bike but the only time she didn't lock it up it was stolen.  Of course, there is nothing that can be done about this but it is perhaps interesting that she seemed to think the lock had worked when she had used it!

I am arranging for the footage from yesterday to be copied onto DVD and will send you a copy.

Thank you again for all your help.

Kind regards

Alex