Plenty to do for 67 minutes
More than a few ways to volunteer your time on Mandela Day. Reports by REBECCA JACKMAN
AS NELSON MANDELA looks likely to spend his birthday next week in hospital, it will be with plenty of poignancy that South Africans across the board plan for their 67 minutes this year, when they will do something good for others – one minute for every year Madiba spent fighting for human rights.
And for locals there’s plenty to choose from:
The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital asks you to give your time to simple tasks. Two window-cleaning companies have already offered to wash their windows, and that’s a big task for a big hospital. But there’s plenty they need doing. “Red Cross is known throughout the world as a centre of excellence for pioneering research and treatment of childhood diseases, and as the premier centre of specialist paediatric training in Africa. It has become a national and international resource – the only remaining dedicated children’s hospital south of the Sahara,” Mandela said of the hospital at a fundraiser in 1995.
The Children’s Hospital Trust has partnered with the Friends of the Children’s Hospital Association to provide opportunities for the public to make a meaningful impact on Mandela Day, but assistance and donations to the hospital are welcome year-round.
For Mandela Day specifically, you can take along bread, butter and fillings and spend your time making lunch for parents of patients at the hospital. You can bring soup and bread or something that makes an easy meal in the evening for the parents who have been sitting in the emergency centre all day.
You can ask the Children’s Hospital Trust what is needed to make food parcels and toiletry packs for discharged patients. Or, you can spend time with patients who are confined to their hospital beds by reading to them, playing games or making puzzles. There are toys available, but donations are welcome too.
The association will take volunteers any time from 9am to 7pm on Thursday. To confirm your time, or for more information, contact the trust on 021 686 7860 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Shine Centre provides literacy and language support to disadvantaged children, with the aim of developing “a nation of young readers”. They are always in need of volunteers who can commit a minimum of an hour and a half a week for a minimum of six months. There is no cost to the volunteers themselves. They are also running events specifically for Mandela Day that anyone can get involved with.
For the first event they will be partnering with Breadline Africa and the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory to raise awareness of the importance of literacy and reading, and to promote the placement of more libraries in rural primary schools throughout the country.
“If you’re looking for a meaningful way to spend 67 minutes in support of Nelson Mandela’s legacy, we will be at the Breadline pop-up container library at the V&A Clock Tower up to and including Thursday, between 10am and 4pm daily, says Linda Codron, the centre’s communications manager.
You can just “arrive and help”. You can also do small tasks such as spending your 67 minutes (or more if you wish) reading to children, assembling reading supplements for use in Shine Centre schools and poorer communities, or getting together books to donate for use at a Shine Centre school.
For the second event, in association with Chic Mamas store in Sea Point, you are asked to get together a bag of “gently worn” items of clothing that are still in good condition to donate to the store.
On Mandela Day all takings from the store will go to The Shine Centre. You can also help by visiting the store on the day and making a purchase. The store opens at 10am on Thursday, and shoppers will be welcomed with tea and cake.
For more information visit www.theshinecentre.org.za
If you are not sure what type of organisation you would like to help, or how you would like to spend your 67 minutes, contact The Volunteer Centre in Claremont.
The centre facilitates training and placement with organisations in various sectors, while ensuring that you as the volunteer are fully aware of your rights and responsibilities within that role. You will be asked to attend an information session and then asked to fill out a form to establish where you want to or should be placed.
The centre does make one-on-one sessions available if you can’t attend one of their set information sessions. You will be presented with a projects list and informed how each organisation works. There is a small administration fee, with the amount depending on your employment status.
Training co-ordinator for the centre, Natasha Simons, says the centre does not exclude foreigners. Many people come from overseas to volunteer in South Africa, but it is just as important to help at home. The centre will not just be focusing on July 18, but the whole of July, and can help you find a placement with an organisation.
You can also give your time to the centre itself by washing windows, cleaning, clearing or helping in any way you can. For more information go to www.volcent.co.za
“With Mandela Day people don’t always see that the windows need to be washed or the grass needs to be cut. It’s do-it day. You get down, put on latex gloves and do stuff,” Simons says.
GETTING STUCK IN: Mandela Day volunteers help build homes in Mfuleni last year for beneficiaries of the Habitat for Humanity project.
AT WORK: Prisoners in Mthatha repaint Qunu Primary School on Mandela Day last year.