Plenty to do for 67 min­utes

More than a few ways to vol­un­teer your time on Man­dela Day. Re­ports by REBECCA JACK­MAN

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

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 cht@chtrust.org.za

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.

PIC­TURE: DAVID RITCHIE

GET­TING STUCK IN: Man­dela Day vol­un­teers help build homes in Mfu­leni last year for ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity pro­ject.

PIC­TURE: NEIL BAYNES

AT WORK: Pris­on­ers in Mthatha re­paint Qunu Pri­mary School on Man­dela Day last year.

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