ADRIEN NIYONSHUTI Cycling Foundation, in partnership with Rwanda Cycling Federation (Ferwacy) and Team Rwanda Cycling (TRC), donated 100 ‘Qhubeka’ bicycles worth US$57,000 (about Rwf38.7m) to school children in Rwamagana, the hometown of Rwanda’s celebrated Olympic cyclist Adrien Niyonshuti.
Niyonshuti is currently riding professionally in Europe with the South Africa’s MTN/Samsung Qhubeka Continental Pro Team.
The bicycles were donated to the Adrien Niyonshuti Cycling Foundation last year following a Mountain Bike Fundraising Ride in the US, the 50 Mile Ride for Rwanda.
The late wife of the initiator of that event was a school teacher in the US for many years who was passionate about education.
The bicycles will be used by school children to make it easier to get to and from school, covering long distances in a shorter period of time and hopefully increasing attendance and improving grades.
Speaking at the function on Monday, Ferwacy chairman Aimable Bayingana said that similar donations will go to other parts of the country.
“We have started with Rwamagana District because it’s the home of our cycling icon Adrien Niyonshuti. But we will give out bicycles to other school children elsewhere in the country in the near future,” he said.
The function was presided over by Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Mathias Harebamungu.
Harebamungu urged students to make good use of the bicycles, adding that they would equally help students to develop skills in cycling sport besides boosting their chances to perform well at school.
“The donation is the first of its kind in Rwanda, so Rwamagana district is privileged. The bicycles are for multiple purposes – they can also carry goods. We thank the Cycling federation and our son Niyonshuti who is doing everything possible to reach out to young children,” he said.
He added: “Students should emulate exemplary cyclists like him and ensure that they perform well both at school and in sports. Our government is committed to helping you achieve your dreams.”
The bicycles were delivered to different schools including; GS Anglican (18), GS Islamic (9), GS Kabare (6), GS Nsinda (6), GS Nyarusange (16), GS Rwamagana A (33) and GS Rwamagana B (12).
One of the beneficiaries said that walking long distances was one of the key factors that affected his performances in schools.
Moise Twizeyimana, 20, a senior four student at GS Rwamagana, said he had been walking at least eight hours daily for 11 years.
Twizeyimana said that he had to work hard to pass exams, adding that he was always late for classes due to the long distance between his home and school.
“This is a big surprise to me…I had never imagined that I would get relief of this nature. I now hope to start attending all lessons and passing my exams with flying colours. If I was scoring highly when I missed some hours of class work, what about if I am attending 100 per cent? This is a great moment for me,” he said.
Olympian Niyonshuti said recently, “I am very happy for the bicycles and for the support from my team MTN Qhubeka, World Bicycle Relief, Team Rwanda Cycling, the Federation and the people who participated in the ride in the US to help bring bicycles to school children. Education is very important for the future of the children of Rwanda.”
The programme was modeled after the World Bicycle Relief (WBR) Bicycle Education Empowerment Programme (BEEP) which has delivered the same packages in Zambia, South Africa and several other Sub-Saharan countries. The monitoring and evaluation of the programme will be conducted by White Dove Foundation.