Sweetbike Community Project shows community-first ethos of Serenity Hills eco-estate

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Alongside sustainability and quality lifestyle, community remains a core ethos of the Serenity Hills eco-estate development taking shape on Margate along the KZN mid-South Coast. This is well evidenced by several on-site projects, including the Sweetbike Community Project, a non-profit organisation – operating in collaboration with Serenity Hills – which recently donated 30 bicycles to deserving high school pupils at Mhlabuhlangene Senior Secondary School on the lower KZN South Coast.

The Sweetbike Community Project falls under Sweetdale Skills Center established by Swiss entrepreneurs Roland and Sibylle Wenger, alongside their children Sam and Connie in 2015. Sam Wenger, now the Development Director for Serenity Hills, is ensuring this community initiative remains an integral part of this vibrant eco-development.

“The Sweetbike Community Project was established in 2018 as a way to positively impact the lives of South Africa’s most vulnerable school children by providing them with bicycles to get to and from school daily,” explained Wenger. “The reality is that many children in rural areas drop out of school simply because of a lack of transport, and our NPO is aiming to address this one bike at a time.”

Quality bicycles are imported from Europe and refurbished at the Sweetbike Workshop which forms part of the Skills Center, employing and upskilling people from the local communities. Once ready, these bicycles are donated to children attending rural schools from Umzumbe to Port Edward.

Ayanda Masengemi, Assistant Manager at Serenity Hills who oversees the project, explained that the Sweetbike team works closely with local principals and ward councillors to identify the children who would benefit most from the bicycle donations.

“We consider schools where there are no taxis and limited alternative transport, with children having to travel an hour or more for several kilometres by foot every day to get to school,” explained Masengemi. “To date, we have donated more than 2 000 bicycles to schoolchildren, and once they have completed school, these bicycles are then refurbished and donated to others who can benefit from them. It has had a massive impact on the lives of these deserving youngsters.”

The latest handover of 40 bicycles to Mhlabuhlangene Senior Secondary School was well received, with the selection of recipients not only based on distance, but individual needs in terms of affordability, family background and reliance on grants, as well as pupil behaviour inside and outside the classroom. To maintain the safety of the bicycles, the school prints serial numbers on each one and monitors the upkeep by each recipient.

Mr B Dladla, a teacher at the school, said that children are having to travel more than 11km to and from school by foot, negatively impacting their energy and concentration levels. Further to this, he said: “With these bikes, more students will be able to participate in the afternoon classes since they will not have to leave early and walk the 11km journey to get home before dark.”

School principal, Mrs Manciya, noted that  Mhlabuhlangene had achieved a 100% pass rate for the 2022 matric results – something the donation would help them achieve again: “The bikes will cement the school’s 100% pass rate for the year 2023 and the coming years! Late-coming by school learners will decrease dramatically and they will be motivated to do well in class.”

Masengemi concluded: “The project will grow within Serenity Hills as the philosophy of the Wenger family has always been to enrich the community through job creation and skills development.”

Serenity Hills is an exquisite, subtropical paradise with Indian Ocean views and set amid lush coastal forests and rolling hills. Serenity Hills boasts top-class facilities such as The Clubhouse with swimming pools, the Infinity Bar, and The Bistro. Alongside extensive nature trails, there will be Yoga and Pilates spots, bowling greens, a volleyball field, a golf driving range and a tennis court for active residents, with on-site medical care. Serenity Hills’ partnership with @home and Weber further underscores the developers’ commitment to excellence in design. 

To find out more and book a viewing at Serenity Hills, visit www.serenityhills.co.za. For regular updates, follow @serenityhillsecoestate on Facebook and Instagram.