People across the world are heeding the call in honour of South Africa’s late founding president, Nelson Mandela, to volunteer 67 minutes of their time to do good for the less fortunate.
Nelson Mandela International Day, celebrated on his date of birth today, was launched following a unanimous decision by the UN General Assembly in 2009, inspired by a call Mandela made for the next generation to take on the mantle of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices.
Today also marks the launch of The Elders' new global project, Walk Together, in central Cape Town, where Mandela delivered his first address on his release from 27 years' imprisonment for opposing apartheid.
The event will feature some of the world’s most notable political and community leaders, discussing the world’s ongoing humanitarian issues.
The Elders is the independent group of global leaders founded by Mandela a decade ago, made up of former heads of state, peace activists and human rights advocates.
Elders include Kofi Annan, Ban-ki Moon, Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel, Jimmy Carter, Hina Jilani, Mary Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo.
South Africans and people around the world are urged to open their hearts in honour of Mandela and to do good for the less fortunate, providing necessities or leaving lasting impressions in the form of libraries and care centres.
Education was also very close to Mandela’s heart. This morning Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was due to announce that the Avbob board donated R150 million for the renovation, refurbishment and building of schools across the country.
It was the single largest investment in a school infrastructure programme by a corporate since she stepped into office, Motshekga said.
Avbob was among the first in the corporate sector space to partner with the department when it called on social partners to invest in it through the launch of the 1 000 School Libraries a year project, Motshekga said.
“Avbob is the single largest contributor of fully functional container libraries to primary schools. The value of container libraries is worth approximately R500 000 each to schools all over South Africa.
"Each Converted Container Library comes with a whopping 2 500 books each, thus benefiting thousands of our learners,” Motshekga said.
Last week, children at Sakhile Primary School in Heidelberg received a library through the Mandela Day school library project. It means, for the first time in 51 years, they have books to page through.
The school, which has an 82% pass rate, is aiming for 92% now that the children have the benefit of the library’s 1 000 books. The library was donated through Old Mutual Insurance.
Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers is implementing R10 million in projects over several days in the biggest project in partnership with Vodacom, where 50 000 food and stationery packs will be distributed to schools in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
The organisation's West Africa branch is today planting trees and donating teaching aids to the Centre for the Mother and Child in the desert city of Ma'tamoulana, Mauritania.
Gift of the Givers is currently building the centre, which is a traditional Mauritanian educational institute for women of all ages.
Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB) is celebrating by preparing 1 000 sandwiches for the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Heideveld, the Heatherdale Children’s Home in Belgravia, Ekuphumleni Frail Care Centre in Gugulethu and Baphumelele Foundation in Khayelitsha.
In further celebration of Madiba’s spirit, Dr Beth Engelbrecht, head of health at the provincial department and her team will host a celebratory function in thanking sponsors and donors who made it possible for 67 patients to receive life-changing hip and knee replacements, and cataracts surgeries.