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