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Mandela Day 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa

Every year, on 18 July, South Africans are encouraged to spend 67 minutes of their time to volunteer their services for social and charitable projects. This is to acknowledge the life of the late SA president, Nelson Mandela, whose life was dedicated to the freedom struggle in South Africa. South Africans are asked to involve themselves in local and national projects aimed at uplifting communities with the aim of making a difference. The call to ‘take action, inspire change and to make everyday a Mandela Day’ resonates strongly with the values of BAPS Charities

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. This acclaimed quote from the late former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, inspired this year’s Mandela Day initiative in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In a country where access to basic education is a challenge, volunteers from BAPS Charities in Johannesburg embarked on a 3 week project to collect and donate books from residents in Mayfair-West, a suburb close to the Johannesburg CBD. Beginning on 19 July 2015, approximately 1000 reading, educational and school text books were collected from the residents and donated to various beneficiaries. Each book was cleaned and covered where necessary and labels, depicting the words of Nelson Mandela, were placed inside each book.

The beneficiaries of the books were as follows:

1. Frida Hartley Centre for Distressed Women: This organisation focusses on looking after women with a history of physical and mental abuse, addiction and abandonment. The organisation rehabilitates women by providing them with a comfortable environment to live and professional counselling services. The organisation also looks after young children. As part of this initiative, BAPS Charities volunteers re-painted the creche area, installed new carpets and decorated the children’s rooms. Toys were also donated to the children. 

2. Impala Crescent Primary School: This school caters for up to 900 students, the majority of which are from underprivileged families.

3. JISS (Johannesburg Institute of Social Services): A child and family welfare institute which focuses on providing development/empowerment programmes that can uplift the community.

4. Girls & Boys Town: An organistaion that specialises in child & youth care programmes. They have 4 youth development centres and 4 community family homes. The family homes offer residential care to children whose own families cannot manage to provide support.

All beneficiaries were pleased at receiving the books and expressed their confidence that this will assist in adding a positive impact to the lives of those who are eager to develop themselves, but are deprived of the literature and resources that can facilitate this wish.