Image: Pictured left to right: Moleboheng Mokoatle, Mandla Shabangu, Eunice Themba and Samkelisiwe Mlambo during the donation of the 125 blankets and food parcels to the orphanage in Daggakraal, Mpumalanga.
Image: Pictured left to right: Moleboheng Mokoatle, Mandla Shabangu, Eunice Themba and Samkelisiwe Mlambo during the donation of the 125 blankets and food parcels to the orphanage in Daggakraal, Mpumalanga.
Image: Children receiving the blankets at the first blanket drive event.
Image: Children receiving the blankets at the first blanket drive event.

NELSPRUIT- Earlier this year, instead of organising a lavish 21st birthday party for himself, Mandla Shabangu got together with three friends to donate blankets and food to an orphanage in Daggakraal. 

Daggakraal is one of South Africa's most impoverished and isolated communities located near Volksrust in Mpumalanga.

From this selfless act, the #Being21 initiative was born. 

Mandla wants the iniative to inspire others to celebrate their 21st birthday in a different sense, one that gives back to those in need. 

 “So, when I approached my 21st birthday I thought why not do something to make someone else happy, instead of getting tangible gifts?”

Shabangu originally planned to use the initiative for his own birthday and then to close it down.

As a graduate of the Columba Leadership programme, Shabangu was inspired by the idea of service as a fundamental value. 

“After the Columba academy, I decided to commit myself to being of service for the rest of my life,” says Shabangu.

Columba Leadership is a value-based leadership programme developing responsible leaders and employable young people.

“We are extremely proud of what Mandla has achieved with #Being21. At Columba, we believe that there is greatness in all young people – we just need to unlock it,” says Tracy Hackland, CEO at Columba Leadership.

 Several sponsors, including Nedbank and Nestle, urged him to register #Being21 as a non-profit organisation and to continue the good work.

On 24 April 2017, #Being21 was officially registered. However, Mandla and his team are only able to commit half of their time to the organisation due to lack of funds. 

“You only turn 21 once in a lifetime. We want to change the narrative of how 21st birthdays are celebrated, so we are busy recruiting young people who are turning 21 next year to use this opportunity to be of service to those in need,” says Shabangu.

At their first event, #Being21 donated 125 blankets and food parcels to the orphanage at Daggakraal. 

Since then they have donated another 55 knitted blankets and 25 polar fleeces to needy members of their local community. “For our next event, we are planning to donate 250 school shoes and 250 school bags to disadvantaged children in Lusikisiki,” says Shabangu.

Starting an NPO at the tender age of 21 was not an easy task. “This was our first project and we made a lot of mistakes and hit a lot of icebergs,” explains Shabangu. 

“We continually used the values taught to us by Columba to keep us going. We persevered, focussed on our goal and kept going until we succeeded. Columba supported us from beginning to end. They were an anchor for me and the team, and we thank them for their support,”said Shabanga. 

If you would like to donate or need more information about #Being21 contact Mandla at [email protected] or 084 668 1940. 

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE