The date 18 July is regarded as international Mandela Day to honour the late, ex-president of South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela. His life, inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, is based on sacrifice and servitude to his people. He spent 27 years in prison whilst campaigning for democracy and freedom for all South Africans, irrespective of race, colour or religion.
As a result of his commitment to making a difference in the world around him, a national “Mandela Day” initiative has been established on his birthday – 18 July – where all South Africans are encouraged to make a difference to society and the community around them. It is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make a lasting impact. South Africans are encouraged to spend 67 minutes of our time as volunteers in any community-based project. Schools, non-profit organisations, media, government departments, corporate and religious organisations all partake in this initiative. With this call to action, BAPS Charities South Africa committed to running projects in Johannesburg, Lenasia and Cape Town between 18 July and 28 July. Below is a brief summary of each project.
BAPS Charities volunteers in Mayfair, Johannesburg participated in two activities. The first activity involved the distribution of rape recovery kits to victims of sexual assault at the Nthabiseng Crisis Centre at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in the historical black township of Soweto. Crime statistics released for the period April 2011 to March 2012 show there were 64 514 sexual crime cases reported to the police. Approximately 40% reported rape cases are rape of children under the age of 18 years. The Nthabiseng crisis centre offers rape victims medical examination and facilities for victims to shower, receive counselling and other treatment. BAPS Charities SA provided 250 rape recovery kits comprising of clean clothing, underwear and a toiletry bag consisting of soap, sanitary towels, toothbrush and paste as well as 60 complete sets of clothing to the organisation.
The second activity involved donating 30 boxes of men, women and children’s clothing to a Christian Methodist Church in the Johannesburg City Centre. Volunteers also assisted in serving soup to the homeless at their weekly soup kitchen.
BAPS Charities volunteers in Lenasia organised a children’s party for the Eben-Ezer Children’s home in Evaton, south of Johannesburg, to celebrate the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. The home looks after 40 orphaned children aged between 17 months and 18 years old.
The children at the centre were treated to luxuries such as face painting, art activities, sports and games. Volunteers spent time interacting with the children to provide the moral support that children and youth in such circumstances lack. Additionally, the children, youth and house parents were treated to a warm, scrumptious lunch and were given toys and hampers to remind them of the time that BAPS Charities was privileged enough to spend with them.
BAPS Charities volunteers in Cape Town visited the Cheshire Home in the spirit of Mandela Day 2013. The mission of Cheshire home is to provide residential care to people with severe physical disabilities from previously disadvantaged communities. The home aims to provide them with a stable, caring and nurturing environment.
About 11 volunteers visited the home at tea time with the spirit of brightening up the day for the 70 residents that were present. Volunteers provided tea, coffee and hot chocolate together with sandwiches, doughnuts, muffins, cupcakes and hot cross buns. The day culminated with the screening of the movie “Invictus”, which portrayed Nelson Mandela’s role in inspiring the country’s victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final. The residents appreciated the quality time BAPS Charities volunteers had spent with them and expressed their desire for future visits and interaction.