Spirit Stories 2019

This year, over 1400 people across Belron will be running, cycling and swimming to raise funds for Afrika Tikkun at our annual Spirit of Belron Challenge. Every person has their own reason for taking part. Here are just a few of our inspiring Spirit stories.

Thank you to everyone who has shared their story with us. If you would like to share your story, please get in touch with your local ambassador.

Boris Neubert, Carglass® Germany

“I’m taking on my first olympic triathlon at this year’s SoBC. My training got off to a great start thanks to my colleagues who have really helped motivate me. I’m also feeling much better with a few less kilos on my hips! 

“I can’t wait for SoBC - it’s a fantastic event! Crossing the finish line is going to be a very special moment.”

Ross Humphrey, Belron International

“Wearing a 50kg weighted vest to run the half marathon will bring back some memories… I last wore it five years ago when I ran 10km in memory of my Grandad who passed away from Motor Neurone Disease. 

“Why have I decided to wear the vest again? Well, as it’s SOBC I’ve decided to challenge myself to run a half marathon within 3.5 hours.

"I’m looking forward to getting the vest out again, pushing myself to complete the distance and, of course, experiencing the Spirit.”

Sonja Ricklefs, Carglass® Germany

“I’m celebrating a milestone birthday this year so I’ve been focusing on losing some weight through eating well, and training. I’m a fair-weather cyclist but I’ve been cycling a few times and have run 5km at least once a week. I’ve also done some outdoor swimming. It all seems to have done the trick and I’m feeling fitter and more energetic than before. 

“I believe age is irrelevant to having the right spirit – it’s never too late to get your body in shape, to do a bit of sports and combine this with supporting a charity.” 

Sonja’s been the Carglass® Germany SoBC Ambassador since 2002 and will be doing the Sprint Triathlon at this year’s event. 

Fabio Pacifici, Carglass® Italy

“Thanks to Belron I discovered and fell in love with triathlon; I’ve participated in more than 100, from supersprint to half distance, and some XTerra too.

"This year will be my sixteenth Belron triathlon - I’ve seen the event evolve from just 8 of us taking part from Italy, to now, with over 80 people!  For me, the Spirit of Belron Challenge is the best way to really experience Belron. I love that I can spend two days with fantastic people, all of whom testify that together we make the difference.”

Fabio will be doing the sprint distance at this year’s event. 

Sabrina Berns, Carglass® Germany

"My usual sport of choice is latin american dancing, but this year I'm stepping right outside of my comfort zone and I’ve signed up for the super-sprint triathlon. 

"My son was born 18 months ago so training has really helped me get into shape. Doing this all for Afrika Tikkun is really motivating me to do my best." 

Kelly-Anne Koka, Smith&Smith® New Zealand

“My husband and I parent four amazing children. I love kids! I believe that children are our future and should be offered every opportunity to thrive. We’ve come together as a team in New Zealand to fundraise for this amazing charity. It’s really important to me that children in South Africa are offered the same opportunities as everyone else.

“This is my first SoBC and I can’t wait to be a part of it!”

André Bergeron, Belron Canada

“I’m very excited about doing this for Afrika Tikkun to help those in need. Most of us are lucky enough to live comfortably and to be able to provide for our children. Everyone should have access to healthcare, education and nourishment.

“On a more personal note, the Spirit of Belron Challenge has motivated me to pursue healthy habits and exercise. It’s my first time participating in this type of event, and it’s the first time I’ve ever travelled outside of Canada! I’m determined to help make a difference!”

Njabulo Tukela, 17, Afrika Tikkun, Mfuleni Centre

“My dream is to make my Dad proud and help my Mum to move from the township to a better place. When my parents divorced five years ago, I felt very depressed. My Dad used to help me with my homework so it was hard when he left us. My Mum’s a cleaner and doesn’t earn much money.

"My mentor at Cape Town’s Mufuleni centre is helping me to gain more confidence and to work with other people. In 10 years’ time I want to be a leader. I want to be a financial advisor and be in a position where I can support my parents.  

"I’m excited to be the first male ambassador from Mufuleni. When I left for London, the centre threw me a surprise leaving party. Everyone was coming up to me wishing me good luck. I felt like a celebrity! 

"I am feeling the pressure as it’s my first time in a cycling race. At first I didn’t know how to cycle but I’ve been training every Sunday. I’m gonna ride the bike until I finish – even if I’m the last one over the line.”

Tumelo Ndwandwe, 18, Afrika Tikkun, Diepsloot Centre

“I’m captain of the baseball team at Afrika Tikkun’s Diepsloot Centre. I’d never been a leader before. I used to look at myself as someone who couldn’t succeed but now I know I can. It’s not easy being the captain – making sure people attend training every week and stay fit, but it’s given me the opportunity to lead. 

"I go to the Centre after school every day and sometimes at the weekends. I don’t like home much. There’s a lot of gang violence where I live so I make sure I hang out with good people. One day I’m going to get out of the township and work in London or Germany managing data and solving problems. I like being a problem solver. 

"I’m grateful for the person I am right now. I never thought I would be that. I’ve learnt that you shouldn’t allow your situation to stop you from doing anything. It should motivate you to do something better. Thanks to Afrika Tikkun I am. I’m here in London having the time of my life!”

Fortunate Baloyi, 16, Afrika Tikkun, Diepsloot Centre

“I want to see change in Diepsloot. Women don’t feel safe here. They can’t go out at night for fear of being attacked. 

"I want to be an electrical engineer. That way I can change women’s lives; I can bring light to the dark places in Diepsloot and criminals and rapists won’t have any dark places to hide. There aren’t many female engineers in South Africa. But that’s okay. I hope that I can empower other girls to see that if you work hard and stay positive, anything is possible.

"I remember going to my Aunt’s house one day after school to see my cousin. She told me she was over the road at an Afrika Tikkun centre. I looked over and saw the kids playing and having fun. I knew I wanted to go there. That was eight years ago and the centre is now my home.

"I feel blessed to have found Afrika Tikkun. Some of my friends are smoking and three of my classmates are pregnant. I have an opportunity for a better future.” 

Puseletso Magampa, 17, Afrika Tikkun, Uthando Centre

“When I was younger I was emotionally abused by my grandparents, and then by my stepdad. It feels good that I have the Uthando Centre. It’s my safe space – somewhere that I can go to study, do research and use a computer. 

“It’s also taught me that your past doesn’t determine your future. I’m currently President of the Young Urban Women Group which is part of Afrika Tikkun’s Empowerment programme. We’re a group of girls who come together to talk about the challenges we face and give each other advice. It’s good to motivate each other. I’m definitely a better person for it.  

“I’m hoping it’s a small step towards me becoming an entertainment lawyer. I want to protect the rights of celebrities like rapper Cardi B who has battled with the media invading her privacy. I’m a huge fan of hers. 

“I truly never dreamt that at 16 years old I would be in London. I’ve put in my absolute all to be here and can’t wait to meet everyone.”

Bonnie Bull, Belron Canada

“As Canadians, we are blessed with access to food, shelter and education. Many of us take these privileges for granted, although they are not readily available to everyone around the world. I love being part of a company that believes in giving back and rallies its employees to join in!

“My team members are from different parts of Canada, but we’re all participating in the Spirit of Belron Challenge for the same reason: to raise funds for an organisation that makes a difference to the lives of children. We believe that empowering today’s youth is the key to a better future. As an added bonus, we get to improve our health and meet members of Belron’s global family in the process!”

Steven Courchesne, Belron Canada

"The Spirit of Belron Challenge has given me a great reason to give up smoking. I still have nicotine cravings but focusing on a challenge that requires training and discipline has helped me succeed in staying smoke-free.

"So, while I’m excited about raising money to help the young people of South Africa prosper, it’s also benefited me greatly by keeping me motivated to stay on the right path."

Nehwoh Belinda, General Manager of Uthando and Belron Training Centres, Afrika Tikkun

“When I finished school, I knew I wanted to work with women but it wasn’t until I worked with women who had suffered abuse, that I realised what I was most passionate about. I grew up in a village in Cameroon which has similarities to some of the communities in South Africa. I fell pregnant at 16 and I felt I had experiences and knowledge to share and help inform other women.

“My career’s developed within Afrika Tikkun. My GM role means I work with men and women, children and young people, and I’m available for anyone who needs me. However, I make no apologies that I talk a lot about young women as that’s where my passion lies. The people we support often have the answers. They just need the correct information to make informed decisions and I can help with that, or know someone who can. 

“I love seeing the people I help, go on to fulfil their dreams. Afrika Tikkun offers everyone a safe space to get advice and develop.

“Gender-based violence is the biggest killer in South Africa. If more young women were given a voice and this issue was addressed, it would change everything. I’ve loved being in the UK and having the freedom to walk everywhere. It’s safe, and walking is good for you.

“Puseletso, Fortunate, Njabulo and Tumelo will never forget this trip. They’ve learnt so much and that spirit of sharing and human interaction is so important. If you’re ever in South Africa, please get in touch with one of our centres and see if there’s a way to share your knowledge.”

Clare Jefferis, Belron International

"A member of Afrika Tikkun’s Diepsloot team shared some shocking facts with me about the safety of women, as I walked with him around the maze of alleyways and shacks of the Diepsloot township. This conversation has haunted me for the last year.

"I thought to myself how could this happen? The Township is a community. Why would you treat your neighbours, your own community like this? But this is the reality of a Township. This is the reality of South Africa.

"According to official figures, at least 137 sexual offences are committed per day in South Africa, mainly against women, and this August was the most deadly month for violent crimes that the country has ever seen.

"Women are taking action. Just three weeks ago, thousands of women from across South Africa marched to parliament in Cape Town to protest at the government’s failure to deal with rising violence against women. But when will it change?

"And this is why Afrika Tikkun’s services are more important than ever before. Afrika Tikkun empowers young women by providing them with the skills and confidence to get a good education, find a good job, earn their own money and speak up if they are abused. Fortunate and Puseletso (this year’s Afrika Tikkun ambassadors) both head up Young Urban Women Groups, part of Afrika Tikkun’s Empowerment programme and a way to get girls to talk about the challenges they face in a safe environment.

"Every bit they do for women is a step closer to providing them with a brighter future. And every penny that we raise for Afrika Tikkun is a step closer to giving women the same opportunities that we all have. This is what I will be thinking about when I’m volunteering at SOBC on Sunday. #LivetheSpirit"

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