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18 Jul, 2012

Nelson Mandela Day: Creating a Better World, One Small Step at a Time

Source: www.mandeladay.com

July 18 is Nelson Mandela Day, a day to reflect on how we are going to do our little bit in service of others.

As we prepare for our chance to give back in honour of the decades Mr Mandela spent in sacrifice so that we could live in a better world, we think of his words that it is in our hands to make a difference.

Our hands can change the world for the better. We have the power to make a difference. This is one of the most poignant messages from this great South African who looks not to celebrity and glamour but to ordinary people and their role in the world.

He could have been talking to all of us when he said this to hospital workers on 16 April 1998:

“Whether you change the linen or stitch up wounds, cook the food or dispense the medicines, it is in your hands to help build a public service worthy of all those who gave their lives for the dream of democracy.”

When we plan for Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July this year let us not just think about our beloved Madiba turning 94 or just giving thanks that he is still with us. Rather let’s do him proud that we understand that to truly honour his legacy we should give back to our communities.

Let us keep this high in our minds as we show him and them that we are no less dedicated to the renewal of our societies.

This year 2012 is shaping up to be the biggest Mandela Day month yet, with scores of companies, government departments and other entities gearing up to play their part. So far more than 80 activities have been registered in the Mandela Day website.

These are some of the activities lined up:

Cheesekids – Its Mandela Day activity has been branded Youth Revolution. It held an event on 16 June, namely a cleanup of four schools. Also in July, this organisation will have major Mandela Day activations in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Cheesekids creates a platform for public involvement. It uses the model of a central hub from which members of the public who have signed up are taken to various community service sites. Thousands of people are set to take part in Cheesekids’ July activities.

Ascent of Kilimanjaro – This campaign aims to collect 67000 sanitary pads for distribution to girls in rural areas. Richard Mabaso of Imbumbu Foundation and Sibusiso Vilane will undertake the climb. The dates for the Kilimanjaro trip are 6-14 July. The climb will be followed by the distribution of sanitary pads during the week of 16 July. The programme aims to reach 1000 girls and to provide them with sanitary pads for a year. The United Nations Women Southern Africa Regional Office is giving strong backing to the campaign and last Friday (29 July) made the first handover of pads to Imbumba Foundation.

Habitat for Humanity This organisation’s Mandela Day “Build Week” aims to build 67 houses. It will undertake Mandela Day house-builds in Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng (Orange Farm).

Stop Hunger Now – This initiative will involve thousands of people in cities and towns around the country in preparing special food packs. The food packs are distributed to early learning centres in poor communities. Food distribution forms part of a broader programme of improving facilities and management at these educare centres. Companies such as Pick n Pay get involved and hundreds of their staff members will help with the packing sessions. Members of the public are also invited to participate.

Lead SA – This initiative has committed to adopting schools in Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN, and to get volunteers to do their bit on 18 July.

Meals on Wheels – This programme is encouraging companies to support the elderly. Meals on Wheels’ initiative is important because there are an astonishing number of elderly people from all population groups who live in awful circumstances.

Joubert Park initiative by the Joubert Park Youth Outreach Project (NGO) – Their programme will include an exhibition, a lecture, a clean-up of a taxi rank, a Big Walk from Joubert Park to Constitutional Hill (symbolising the Long Walk to Freedom), and a day of fun for smaller kids.

Book handovers There will be several book handovers. For example, one book handover will be at a school in Alexandra and another to a school in Tsakane.

The Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton – A collection will be held for books and canned food under the slogan “A full tummy powers a healthy brain”. The handover will take place at school in Alexander on 18 July. The handover will be preceded by community service work at the school.

Department of Correctional Services – The department’s focus will be on community service activities involving inmates at schools in each province and schools will be the focal point of this initiative.

Road race, Pietermaritzburg to Howick – This race, dubbed the Mandela Day Road Race, will start at the city’s Edendale township and end at the Nelson Mandela capture site in Howick.  It is being implemented by the Msunduzi Municipality.

The Kaya FM road race – This race is set to take place on 15 July.

The Drum Café – An interactive activity for about 80 learners will be hosted at the Drum Museum in Selby.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) – The DBE has launched the 94+ Schools Infrastructure Project and has already hosted a major event to inform the media, the private sector and the public of progress.

Mandela Day container libraries – These libraries constitute one of the focal points of the campaign. The library initiative is linked to the DBE’s 94+ Schools Infrastructure Prohect.  Before the end of June, several formal library “openings” will take place. The libraries provide opportunities for members of the public to become involved; they can volunteer as librarians, assist with sorting of books and undertake reading activities with learners.

Pick n Pay book collection – The retailer will place branded boxes at its stores to collect story books for children. These books will be distributed to schools in a way that boosts and supports the establishment of library facilities at schools. Collection will take place at all supermarkets and hypermarkets nationally and a formal handover of books will take place in the last week of July.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality – The municipality will undertake a range of activities including a community service activity and a lecture. Activities will extend over two weeks.

The Cycalive initiative – This initiative, which builds bridges across racial lines, involves high school learners travelling by bicycle from Johannesburg to Durban. It is organised by the Torah Academy and involves Soweto’s Pace and Moletsane schools.

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory – The centre will hold a colloquium on “Legacy and the State of the Archives in honour of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela” at the Nelson Mandela Museum, Qunu on 17-18 July.

Those keen on following the progress and impact of Mandela Day should take note of the following planned activities.

  • Other municipality-led community “clean-up” activities. All of South Africa’s roughly 300 municipalities will be involved
  • Community service by scores of companies that run year-round employee volunteer programmes. In these initiatives, thousands of employees will donate their time at schools, homes of care and other community facilities
  • Individuals undertaking work at crèches, old age homes and other places of care
  • Government departments providing services at special times e.g. weekends
  • Campaigns by media agencies encouraging their readers/listeners/viewers to get involved.

Mandela Day events will take place in virtually every country. The Mandela Day team has been notified of planned activities in New York (United Nations), London (The Elders), Iceland, Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Australia and the Philippines.

This year’s Mandela Day is set to exceed what we have achieved in the past, precisely because those taking part are more organised and better prepared. Many more people locally and around the world know and understand what Mandela Day is. As individuals are concerned, tens of thousands more are set to participate and help create a better world, one small step at time.