This year marks the 27th anniversary of South Africa’s freedom. What does this freedom mean to you and what are you doing to celebrate? This year, one teenager is doing something different.
On 27 April 2021 – Freedom Day – Kola Cohen, a 19-year-old from Hout Bay, will be participating in the Freedom Paddle, an initiative where paddlers paddle from Cape Town to Robben Island to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and the struggle heroes who fought for South Africa’s freedom.
Kola will be paddling the tough 27km route on a prone board, using only his arms and body strength to push him through.
But this year Kola isn’t paddling for endurance, he’s paddling for love.
‘Paddling on a prone board is a tough physical challenge,’ explains Kola. ‘But if I can help to raise support for the Hout Bay community, it will be worth it.’
Kola is paddling to raise support for Love in a Bowl, a community farming initiative that provides nutritious, organic vegetables to the most vulnerable in Hout Bay. Every week they deliver a ‘community pot’ to 32 different creches, soup kitchens and NGOs in Hout Bay, which provides 27 meals to those that need it most.
For Freedom Day, Kola is trying to raise support for 1,000 community pots, providing 27,000 meals for hungry people in Hout Bay.
‘We live in a beautiful country but there are a lot of problems,’ explains Kola. ‘We all need to use our productive capacity, in whatever form it’s in, to make a positive difference in our community. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.’
Kola explains that he recognised the importance of Love in a Bowl’s work after volunteering with them in 2019. In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he saw the impact the national lockdown was having on the poorest in society, how many were struggling to get enough food to eat, and he wanted to lend a helping hand.
‘I was so impressed with the way that Love in a Bowl took the initiative to provide food for those in need and my time there really taught me the value of hard work. I dug the land, helped tend to the plants and worked in community with everyone. And those vegetables made a big difference to a lot of people.’
As a young athlete, Kola understands the importance of healthy living and in particular, of having nutritious food. He explains that the food you eat directly impacts your ability to excel and to have a healthy society, you need to start with having access to healthy food.
In preparation for Kola’s Freedom Paddle, he is undergoing a strict training regime, paddling 5km twice a day, every day, and then building up to 16km. And of course, he’s also eating all his organic vegetables from Love in a Bowl.
‘I’m excited,’ says Kola. ‘Initiatives like Love in a Bowl are the change we need to build a better society, and it’s an honour to be paddling to support them.’
Do an act of love for Freedom Day – support Kola’s Paddle for Love and sponsor a community pot today!