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As com­pa­nies scratch around for ideas for Man­dela Day, de­bat­ing whether to adopt a school, knit a blan­ket or pick up lit­ter, Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters and a group of vol­un­teers have moved swiftly to de­liver blan­kets and set up a pop-up soup kitchen to keep chil­dren at Ik­a­geng com­mu­nity cen­tre in Or­lando West, Soweto, warm.

The vol­un­teers, in­clud­ing Nel-Peters, dished out soup to chil­dren for Sun In­ter­na­tional’s Maslow Ho­tel win­ter soup drive. How­ever, thou­sands of so­cial-me­dia users ques­tioned her rea­son for wear­ing gloves. It turns out all vol­un­teers wore gloves be­cause they were han­dling chil­dren’s food. “It was purely to be as hy­gienic as pos­si­ble. I re­ally feel like my in­ten­tion was mis­un­der­stood, but I would like to apol­o­gise if I of­fended any­one‚” she said on so­cial me­dia.

The aim of the ef­fort was to help pre­pare and serve a hot meal to 300 peo­ple as part of an on­go­ing cam­paign in which The Maslow has com­mit­ted to feed­ing thou­sands of peo­ple this month across Jo­han­nes­burg and Pre­to­ria.

Mean­while, Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion CEO Sello Hatang said the foun­da­tion has is­sued the first Man­dela Day guide to help com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als find valu­able ways to vol­un­teer their time on Nel­son Man­dela In­ter­na­tional Day.

Mil­lions of peo­ple cel­e­brate the day on July 18 ev­ery year. Nel­son Man­dela In­ter­na­tional Day was of­fi­cially de­clared by the United Nations in Novem­ber 2009 and is a global call to ac­tion that cel­e­brates the idea that each in­di­vid­ual has the power to trans­form the world.

“The man­ual is in­tended to help peo­ple who don’t re­ally know how they can con­trib­ute or vol­un­teer dur­ing Man­dela month, as the month of July has typ­i­cally be­come known. The foun­da­tion felt it would be use­ful to issue the guide for the first time this year, es­pe­cially as we have changed the way in which Man­dela Day is ob­served.”

In­stead of vol­un­teer­ing 67 min­utes on July 18 as has be­come the norm, the cus­to­dian of Nel­son Man­dela’s legacy has called on South Africans and oth­ers around the world to take ac­tion through­out the year and not just on Man­dela Day.

He says the foun­da­tion has made a call to the global com­mu­nity to take ac­tion against poverty, #Ac­tionA­gain­stPoverty, be­cause “as long as a neigh­bour needs a help­ing hand, ev­ery day should be a Man­dela Day”.

“Vol­un­teer for projects that will al­le­vi­ate poverty, whether through build­ing a house for some­one who has never had a home or plant­ing a food gar­den at a school to feed pupils. We want South Africans and those around the world to com­mit to long-term, reg­u­lar projects that will tackle poverty,” said Hatang.

Yase Godlo, Man­dela Day man­ager at the foun­da­tion, said the guide helped show that vol­un­teers did not need to make big changes to fit with the new ap­proach to Man­dela Day.

“We wanted peo­ple to com­mit to longer-term, more sus­tain­able ef­forts, but did not want to make it more dif­fi­cult or confusing, which is why we have is­sued the man­ual,” he said.–

Staff re­porter Some sug­ges­tions from the Man­dela Day man­ual

Put to­gether sta­tionery packs for teach­ers and pupils at an un­der­re­sourced school;

Sort do­nated clothes at U-turn or The Ware­house;

Vol­un­teer your time at a Haven Night Shel­ter;

Make sand­wiches to give to peo­ple liv­ing on the street;

Give blood reg­u­larly at your near­est fixed donor site;

Of­fer to fix bro­ken win­dows and doors or to paint at a lo­cal school or or­gan­i­sa­tion;

Help build a home with Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity;

Do­nate ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als to Bread­line Africa;

Or­gan­ise a fun out­ing for chil­dren in an HIV/Aids pro­gramme;

Put to­gether “care kits” (in­clud­ing a comb, tooth­brush, tooth­paste, soap, face cloth, etc) for pa­tients at a nearby gov­ern­ment hospi­tal;

Throw a tea party for the chil­dren and car­ers at a chil­dren’s home;

Of­fer to mow the lawn and tend the gar­den at a nurs­ing home or hos­pice;

Hold a teddy bear or book drive for a chil­dren’s home;

Teach some­one how to use a com­puter and the in­ter­net;

Tu­tor some­one who needs help learn­ing your mother tongue;

Do­nate your old com­puter to an un­der­re­sourced school;

Tu­tor pupils from un­der­re­sourced schools; Do­nate books to your lo­cal li­brary; or Of­fer to at­tend a high school class to talk to students about your ca­reer.


#AC­TIONA­GAIN­STPOVERTY Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters shares bread with chil­dren at Ik­a­geng com­mu­nity cen­tre in Or­lando West, Soweto

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