You could not have invented the thrill and amazement on the faces of 18 boys in Makhanda (Grahamstown) on Sunday morning as a herd of thumping metal roared on to their doorstep.
Old-school tourers like the 1400GTR, sporty cbr 1000s and everything in between brought a posse of 30 leather-clad motorcyclists from East London, King William’s Town, Mdantsane, Alice, Port Alfred, Port Elizabeth and of course Makhanda to the Eluxolweni Child and Youth Care Centre on Sunday 13 July.
To be honest, the decision to miss church just this once was a no-brainer as the group – most of them members of the Road Eagles Motorcycling Club – brought inspiration and cool takkies, along with an impressive noise to the Centre as their annual Mandela Day outreach visit.
The centre cares for up to 33 boys from the age of 8 to 18 who would otherwise have no home, or who have been removed from their homes by social workers. Right now, 18 boys live at Eluxolweni, with five more expected in the next 10 days.
Among them are children who have lived on Makhanda’s streets where they became caught up in substance abuse and crime. Some are children from dysfunctional homes who have been neglected.
Eluxolweni aims to rehabilitate these marginalised and abandoned children, in a loving and supportive environment. Social workers also work with the boys’ parents, and their communities, with the goal of reintegrating them into a supportive environment outside the shelter.
Road Eagles veteran Kose Mateza, from Alice, who is also a teacher, spoke to the boys at Sunday’s event.
“No one choses their parents, nor the day or place to be born,” he said. “Mandela never chose to be born in Qunu. He never chose the circumstances in which he grew up. Your past does not determine your future.”
He chose a motorcycling tip to illustrate his next piece of advice. “On the road, don’t look into the curve,” he said. “Keep your focus on where you want to be. Say to yourself, ‘I want that!’”
It was the boys’ eyes that confirmed they definitely were pleased to be given an array of cool shoes laid along a table, as they politely waited to be brought up to fetch their pair. Sizes were bought to match the boys’ needs.
Club Vice President Lisa Quluba said the Road Eagles were supported by other clubs from afar afield as Mthatha, Steynsburg and Cradock.
Every year, the club chooses a children’s charity to support for Mandela Day.
“Each region of the club has its own charities to support,” Quluba said. “So this event is a combined event.”
The Buffalo City Riders from East London and Immortals from Port Alfred were among the other clubs who helped make the day. Brought together by a love of bikes and being on the road, they come from a rage of professions.
“We got teachers, accountants, businesspeople,” Quluba said, pointing to bikes and their riders as they arrived and dismounted. “Over there is a police officer, there’s an electrician. We’ve got traffic officers, doctors, lawyers.”
Later, as proceedings started, Mateza added: “Most people see us as hooligans, ducktails. But we are normal people living in normal communities. We’re fathers, mothers, brothers, family members,” he said. “We’re brothers in biking and we support one another. If we can be given a chance to rule this country, I’m sure we’ll have a very governable South Africa!”
YOU CAN HELP MAKE MAKHANDA A SAFER PLACE
The streets are not a safe place for children to live. Eluxolweni provides shelter for boys at risk, and the chance to achieve their potential. Eluxolweni receives a basic per capita allowance from the Department of Social Development, but it relies on grants and donations to provide the activities and support that it needs to attain its vision.
Money for salaries is its biggest challenge, says Manager Jane Bradshaw. “A beautifully equipped and maintained facility is of little value if we cannot afford the necessary staff,” Bradshaw said. “Suitably trained staff are essential.”
Help transform young people’s lives and donate to:
Account name: Eluxolweni Charitable Trust
Bank: Absa Bank
ABSA current account no: 405685966
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