Ayabonga Mgope Cycles to New Heights
Ayabonga is a student at the Learn to Live School of Skills at The Salesian Institute Youth Projects in Cape Town. He is currently in Year 4 and is a School Prefect. Ayabonga caught the attention of one of the teachers whilst they were planning the 2015 annual prize giving of the school. The teachers felt that there was a young boy who deserved a special prize. They noticed that throughout the school year, after every lunch, Ayabonga would stay behind and clean up the dining hall out of his own free will, without any encouragement from the teachers.
Everybody knew that he loved cycling, but that he did not own a bicycle. The teachers then searched the Salesian premises and found an old bike, which was refurbished and awarded to him as a special prize in recognition of his exemplary attitude of service. At the beginning of 2016 after the school holidays, it was discovered that Ayabonga no longer had his bicycle, after visiting his elderly grandparents in the Eastern Cape. They live in a rural settlement far away from the nearest town and shops. Ayabonga felt that he had to help his grandparents by giving his bicycle to his grandfather to use as transport to get to town and back. This was a selfless act which did not go unnoticed by the Salesian staff and their supporters.
Having heard about this story Johan Fourie, General Manager at Doolhof Wine Estate decided to donate the bicycle he used to ride his 1st Cape Epic Race with, to Ayabonga, in recognition of his fantastic attitude and to encourage him to continue cycling. Ayabonga has in the meantime joined a cycling club in Houtbay, and he is enjoying his cycling very much. His dream is to one day ride a three-stage cycling event. This dream may now come true, as he has been offered to ride the Wine2Whales with Angelo Casu, Manager of the Grand Dedale Country House in the Winelands this year. Angelo more recently also donated a mountain bike cycling kit to Ayabonga, to motivate him further to cycle.
This story is not only about Ayabonga. It’s about every child in the Learn to Live School of Skills, who has dreams and potential, something the Salesian Institute Youth Project recognises in the youth at risk, and are fulfilling by offering education and training, enabling the youth to have the means to become dignified and productive citizens.