On Wednesday, many South Africans will be wondering how to spend their 67 minutes on Mandela Day to help the less fortunate and, in so doing, honour the legacy of our late statesman.
This annual day of community service is celebrated locally and internationally on July 18, Madiba’s birthday.
While many will be busy painting walls and planting gardens, there are other things that can be done for people whose strong points are not handywork.
Lunga Nene of the Nelson Mandela Foundation says the aim of this day is “to make every day Mandela Day. We hope people embrace this and look for ways to serve their communities daily.
“For the Nelson Mandela Foundation, celebrating 100 years of the birth of Mandela is an opportunity to reignite a conversation on values. We believe this will bring people together.”
The foundation has compiled its own programme, which will include activities by the elders – the international organisation of public figures and human rights activists who include Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel and former US president Jimmy Carter. They will plant trees in Thokoza in Gauteng and distribute food packs to the less fortunate.
Another event on the foundation’s programme is James Ngcobo’s play, Letters from Mandela, which celebrates Madiba’s life through song and dance.
So, what can you do? Here are some suggestions:
• It can be as simple as checking on your neighbour, says Neeshan Balton, executive director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
He adds that the 67 minutes of charitable work need not be about material giving or taking part in a corporate social investment activity at one’s company.
“In every community, in every street, there are people with a need. Sometimes, those needs aren’t material; they’re emotional. When last did you check on how your neighbour was doing? Do you even know your neighbour? People can spend that time also connecting to those people around them.”
Balton says another meaningful way to dedicate 67 minutes to Madiba’s legacy is to spend time reflecting on it and what it means for the country today.
• How about volunteering your time at a children’s home? You can give the regular caregivers a breather by reading stories, bathing, playing with and feeding the children, or rocking babies to sleep. Try the Princess Alice Adoption Home (email email@example.com) or email jhbchildwelfare.org.za which can direct you to homes in need.
• Clear your wardrobe and donate your old clothing to shelters for destitute women and children or the homeless. Make sure the clothes have been freshly washed and ironed, and include some basic toiletries if your budget allows. The Frida Hartley Shelter for destitute women and children in Yeoville, Johannesburg, takes in homeless women and their children, who have endured neglect, abuse, trauma and homelessness. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 011 648 6005. You can also phone Shelter Mercy House on 011 325 4785.
• Attend Childline Gauteng’s charity auction. You can donate auctionable items such as restaurant vouchers, spa vouchers, collectables, vintage items and electronics for the auction. It takes place on Wednesday at 3pm on the rooftop garden of Childline Gauteng’s Sunlight Safe House in Parktown, Johannesburg.
• Capetonians can celebrate Mandela Day by participating in the national drive by Pick n Pay and nonprofit organisation (NPO) FoodForward SA to collect a million meals to feed the poor,
• With so many disadvantaged school children in our country, donating stationery for pupils in Grade 9 to 11 can make a difference. The NPO, Just Grace, aims to alleviate poverty in Langa, Cape Town, and improve its children’s education levels.
• The Cancer Association of SA is running a campaign aimed at children and adults living with cancer. You can get involved by donating items such as facecloths, soap, toothbrushes and pocket tissues towards care packs that the association will hand out to patients. Little Fighters Cancer Trust also needs warm clothes, blankets and shoes for children.
• The SA Police Service and #MakeSASafe will visit the Badirammogo Old Age Home in Olievenhoutbosch, Centurion, to erect a fence and deliver groceries and other essentials.
• In the Eastern Cape, a group of Walter Sisulu University accounting science students are collecting sanitary towels for needy girls at four rural schools.