Transport woes drive charity run

The horrors of using some public transport routes are hard to fathom for those who never use them. This is what Christiaan Greyling discovered.

Christiaan, a supply chain engineer at Home Choice in Wynberg, became frustrated with staff who regularly arrived late for work. Their reason was always the same – public transport hassles. Curious, Christiaan, a Stellenbosch resident, wondered just how bad public transport could actually be.

So he took the train from Woodstock to Wynberg to see for himself. Despite the journey being far shorter than what the majority of commuters make daily, Christiaan was in for a rude awakening.

“The first train was cancelled,” he said. The rest of the journey was fraught with new challenges peppered with frequent stops and delays.

“I thought there must be an alternative.”

The search for solutions led Christiaan to initiate an unusual charity drive. For one week, from Sunday May 8 until Friday May 13, he would run to work daily from a cabin on Table Mountain, which would be his temporary home for the duration of the challenge, and donate the money he saved to charity. The basic cabin does not have electricity.

“I realised that we have a lot of problems in South Africa and the one runs into the other.

“Transport affects work, which causes stress at home which affects the children,” he said. “We keep our eyes closed to it. We get in a car and we forget about it and we take it all for granted.”

For most running the 24km would be a heart-stopping experience but Christiaan, 31, is a seasoned trail runner who has successfully represented South Africa at competitions abroad.

“It’s nice to run for someone else and not just to gain podiums but to make a positive change in someone else’s life.”

He is donating the money saved on transport and electricity – R120 a day – to Starting Chance, a non-profit organisation in Mfuleni.

“I was amazed by the work that this charity does,” Christiaan said. “In eight years they’ve already built three schools.”

The charity supports crèches by facilitating teacher training and building permanent structures so that they can register with the Department of Social Development and thereby qualify for subsidies.

“It takes schools from shack status to building status,” Christiaan said.

Starting Chance spokesman Ali Corbett said: “Proceeds from the week will go towards the building of four new buildings which are currently shacks in a shocking condition.”

Many people came on board to support the cause and by the end of the week R25 000 had been raised but Christiaan hopes this challenge will continue to inspire others.

“Sacrifice one of your luxuries this week and donate it to a charity of your choice,” he said. “And keep on searching for solutions because they do exist.”