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Mandela Day event themed around food and nutrition programmes for children

Children and teachers from local ECD centres were invited to join representatives from UP, UNICEF, PwC and young agri-entrepreneurs from Mamelodi in celebrating Nelson Mandela Day for 67 minutes. Picture: Supplied.

Children and teachers from local ECD centres were invited to join representatives from UP, UNICEF, PwC and young agri-entrepreneurs from Mamelodi in celebrating Nelson Mandela Day for 67 minutes. Picture: Supplied.

Published Aug 1, 2022

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Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela loved children. His legacy to the children of South Africa is a deep commitment to improving their lives led by tertiary institutions, international organisations and business.

On 18 July, his birthday, the country was awash with Madiba magic – for children.

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One of the many initiatives involved children from four local early childhood development (ECD) centres in Pretoria. They were treated to Lego games and practical food and nutrition tips as part of a "fun skills development" outreach event to celebrate the birthday of iconic leader Nelson Mandela at the University of Pretoria's (UP) Mamelodi Campus on Mandela Day.

The event was hosted by the Department of Business Management at UP in partnership with UNICEF and PwC in honour of the former South African president, who always held children close to his heart. Mandela would have turned 104 this year. The images of the president always carrying and smiling adoringly at children is one that remains strong.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation themed Nelson Mandela Day 2022 around its food and nutrition programme, with the call to “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. The Foundation had asked that all who supported the campaign participate in sustainable interventions and focus on promoting community and home gardens.

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To this end, the Mamelodi Business Hub (MBH), in collaboration with UNICEF and PwC, wanted to make a change by encouraging young minds to be more resourceful and to learn how to plant their own food through play. Children (aged 5-6 years) and teachers from local ECD centres were invited to join in celebrating Nelson Mandela Day for 67 minutes.

"The children were amazing and made the day special through their inquisitiveness and eagerness to participate," said Professor Alex Antonites, head of the department of Business Management.

“We appreciate the support of our partners UNICEF and PwC, who also provided colouring books and crayons to ensure learning through play, as well as Care for Education for providing a set of Lego Six Bricks to each child in all the ECD centres who attended. This made it a special day for the practitioners and children who benefited as well from the Lego Foundation at the event. Undoubtedly, it was a combined effort that ensured we spread the love and promote learning at the MBH, making this a special day for the little ones,” Antonites said.

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Deputy representative of UNICEF South Africa, Muriel Mafico said Nelson Mandela Day is about service to the community and contribution to a better society.

"To mark 2022 Nelson Mandela Day on the theme of food security and climate change, UNICEF South Africa, the University of Pretoria, Mamelodi Campus, and PwC planted vegetables. Young people who are part of the Generation Unlimited Agri-entrepreneurship programme at Mamelodi Campus put their skills to practical action by preparing the garden and planting vegetables together with children from neighbouring early childhood development centres," she said.

Marthle du Plessis, PwC Workforce of the Future Africa Lead, said PwC's “New World. New Skills” campaign aims to improve access and opportunities for those most in need and equip them with the skills they require to operate effectively in an evolving world of work.

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"Through PwC South Africa's collaboration with UNICEF South Africa and the University of Pretoria, we aim for the Mamelodi Business Hub to increase in reach to ensure a broad range of people in underprivileged communities can access its much-needed services. Our 2022 Mandela Day event, which saw us engage with local ECDs to impart sustainable food security skills from a young age, is at the heart of PwC's purpose – to build trust in society and create sustained outcomes for all those we engage with," she said.

The look on the eyes of children and their teachers celebrating, learning and playing was priceless. It left one wondering why not make every day Mandela Day to inspire the change he sought?

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