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Manenberg cycle tour betters community

by Esther Lewis
21 Nov 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Forget all the other major city cycle tours - Manenberg hosted its very own for the betterment of the community.

A delegation from the City of Aachen, Germany, came to town to renew a twinning agreement with the City of Cape Town.

The agreement focuses on sustainable development between Welthaus Aachen and Selfhelp Manenberg, a civil society initiative by the City of Cape Town.

On Wednesday 65 cyclists made up of Selfhelp Manenberg staffers, city officials and delegates from German non-governmental organisations (NGOs) took to the streets of Manenberg on bicycles.

Even a few officers from Manenberg Police Station swapped their patrol vehicles and blue lights for two wheels. Bicycle Empowerment Network sponsored the bicycles for the day.

The group stopped at several sites in the area where Selfhelp Manenberg projects were being initiated, including Phoenix High School.

Most members of the group were given trees to plant at the school, contributing to nature conservation in Manenberg. Curious residents came out to see the spectacle of visitors and locals riding through the streets - where several people had violently lost their lives over the years - without a hint of fear.

The day was not, however, all about fun on two wheels and sightseeing.

It was also about the memorandum of understanding between Selfhelp Manenberg and Welthaus Aachen - an umbrella group of 23 NGOs across Germany.

The two NGOs made contact in 2003, when Welthaus Aachen was looking to partner with an organisation running similar programmes and projects to their own. They found this in Selfhelp Manenberg.

The common focuses were sustainable development in environmental education and protection, work with youth and parental education. Another key area was to create possibilities of mutual learning and community tourism.

The two groups had already established an exchange programme where two South Africans went to Germany and two representatives of Welthaus Aachen came to Manenberg.

Monika Nelissen of the Welthaus Aachen eco-centre is currently teaching practical lessons in environmental conservation to high school learners.

This year the two organisations decided to solidify their relationship by signing a memorandum of understanding.

By signing the agreement, both parties committed themselves to the partnership to "ensure maximum benefits to the various partners", read the memorandum.

They are now obliged to keep the channels of communication open and keep each other updated on all new developments and ventures.

The partnership will last for at least another three years and will be subject to annual review. After this period, the partnership will be reassessed.

Welthaus Aachen director Birgitta Hollmann addressed the group at the signing of the document - in fact, it was so important to meet the team, she got on a plane for the first time in years.

"I was trying to save the environment so I decided to stop flying, but it was important for the partnership to meet eye to eye and ear to ear," Hollmann said.

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