Thanda Community Centre changes lives of Mtwalume youth

Beiersdorf Managing Director Godwin Harrison adds his finishing touches on one of the centre’s walls, in honour of the Nelson Mandela 67 minutes campaign. Picture: Supplied

Beiersdorf Managing Director Godwin Harrison adds his finishing touches on one of the centre’s walls, in honour of the Nelson Mandela 67 minutes campaign. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 4, 2023


Durban — Beiersdorf managing director Godwin Harrison says the company has decided to sponsor the Thanda Community Centre to uplift the community of Mtwalume, especially its youth, with development skills.

Harrison said the company identified Thanda as an NPO whose community work matched their corporate value system through the implementation of empowering projects to uplift a community through education and long-term sustainable solutions in a diverse and inclusive manner.

Harrison Beiersdorf employees were offered a paid day off for volunteering in partnership with locally supported charitable organisations, and chose Thanda to work on various improvement projects in honour of Nelson Mandela.

“What better way to honour the late, great Nelson Mandela than for our Beiersdorf family to devote one day to working to further improve the lives of the children in the Thanda community?”

Thanda centre volunteer Mafiki Msomi paints the wall at the community centre, making it more attractive for the centre’s inhabitants. Picture: Steven Makhanya

Like many organisations and community centres around the country, Thanda Community Centre was on Tuesday, July 18 abuzz with activity when the employees of Beiersdorf arrived to do community service at the centre in honour of the Nelson Mandela 67 Minutes campaign.

The Beiersdorf team was joined by the employees of Thanda and other stakeholders to beautify the community centre, which houses 109 preschool children between 2 and 4.

The centre was established in 2008, with the aim of providing support to the rural Nyangwini community in Mtwalume through the holistic development of its children, their households, and the community as a whole.

The centre also empowers school girls and boys with learning and development skills, and has provided the girls with skills on how to look after themselves, and armed them with knowledge and education on teenage pregnancy, and also assisted them with their school work.

Thabiso Zulu prepares wooden poles to use for the fencing of the centre. Picture: Steven Makhanya

Speaking to the Daily News, centre co-founder Angela Larkan said they were grateful to Beiersdorf for the support it had provided since 2020.

“Our partnership with Beiersdorf has been rewarding. We work hand in hand to design the solutions that are going to be the most effective and sustainable.

“Everything we do is part of a long-term strategy towards change. Our Covid-19 relief funding has helped to address immediate needs such as hunger through the provision of 144 501kg of food parcels for households, and 101 500kg porridge for more than 19 000 children from the community.

“The funding also aimed at laying the foundation for long-term sustainability by supporting more of the local community in growing its own food.

This led to a 44% increase in the number of youth involved in Thanda’s Organic Farming Programme, as well as the production of R7.7 million worth of vegetables across five wards of Umzumbe Municipality in 2020 and 2021.

The ECD classrooms the learn use are painted in bright colours, symbolising the appealing atmosphere the centre provides for the children. Picture: Steven Makhanya

“With 79% of that produce eaten, given away, or sold in the local community, the funding had an undeniable impact on local food security during a very difficult time.

“With the phasing out of food parcels came the establishment of household gardens, enabling more than 850 households to continue growing their own food today”.

Larkan added that the Covid-19 relief funding also enabled Thanda to continue preventing learning loss through a mobile library and learning at-home programme that enabled parents and guardians to become their children’s teachers, ensuring that 74% of school days lost due to Covid-19 were replaced.

She stated that on average, children at Thanda were 57% less affected by school closures than their counterparts nationally.

Some of the Beiersdorf employees share a lighter moment with the centre’s children. Picture: Supplied

Centre head of Programmes and community relations Raah Msimango said that they had begun a programme whereby they assisted the mothers in the community, teaching them how to look after their babies.

“We teach them caring and love to be able to care for their children. Every weekend and during school holidays the centre becomes a hive of activity, with school-going children from the community flocking to Thanda for activities such as drama plays, Ingoma or Zulu dancing, song compositions, and help with their school work.”

Msimango added that some of these activities were now conducted in the community’s households, where children got easy access instead of travelling to the centre every day, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beiersdorf employees being briefed by Thanda team member, around the activities that take place at the centre. Picture: Steven Makhanya

The employees of Beiersdorf and Thanda Community Centre team gather for a group photo before the activities at the centre begin, to mark the 67 minutes for Mandela campaign. Picture: Steven Makhanya

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