This is Madiba’s call out, said in 2008, when invoking the next generation to embrace a leadership role to address the world’s social injustices.
One year later, inspired by this message, ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’ was launched on 18 July via unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly… and so began 10 years, and counting, of global support and solidarity.
So, what does this look like at home right here in Cape Town and in our community? We can be proud that Mandela Day has always been celebrated with gusto and enthusiasm with shuls, schools, community groups and friendship circles creatively doing their 67 minutes of service.
More recently, since the 100 Year Centenary of Mandela’s birth, there has also been a ‘new kid on the block’ — ‘The Mensch Mandela Day: Family and Friends Day of Volunteering — held at the Hatfield Campus. Curated by NGO Mensch, our communities Jewish social action organisation, the day brings together our network of Jewish social changemakers and our community in a day of volunteering
It is a celebration of active citizenship, education, community and good fun aptly hosted on a campus that represents the many roles and responsibilities of South African Jews. The day is all about lending one’s time and energy to volunteer and support a variety of worthy organisations, projects and individuals by taking part in a number of activities on offer — all in one space!
On Sunday 21 July, around 320 volunteers descended on the campus. Adorned in aprons and ‘chefs caps’ the sukkah hall, under the direction of Norrie’s Catering, saw over 100 people make 1800 sandwiches, 1800 iced Marie biscuits and 150 portions of soup for beneficiaries Souper Troopers (who support the homeless), The Homestead (who support vulnerable street children), Ikamva Labantu (for their Afternoon Angels aftercare programme) and Oranjia Jewish Child and Youth Centre.
Those who wanted to hearwhat some of our thoughtleaders are thinking, enjoyed the Social Impact Talk Series held in the auditorium. Here Glenn Stein, MD of Aweza and winner of the International Netexplo Innovation Award (2016) shared his vision of how his medical translation app will help bridge the language barriers that affects communication between doctors, nurses and patients. This was followed by a South African story of two women — Relate Bracelet founder Lauren Gillis, privileged, and co-worker Nellie Mkunqwana, disadvantaged, who shared their stories on how they have empowered and learnt from one another.
Meanwhile upstairs, the PPCC Hall had been converted into a place of creativity — with Jedi Tedi making, the Bnoth WIZO knit-a-thon and the Ort Education robotics programme all happening at the same time. The room was an intergenerational flurry of creative activity crafted together with a fair degree of mayhem. Here in the space of two hours, 300 Jedi Tedis were made for the Red Cross Memorial Hospital’s Pain Clinic; 15 large, colourful, warm blankets were knitted for the children at the Bulelani Creche in Delft (and the knitting continues still); and from tickets sold at the Robotics sessions — Ort SA Cape can now sponsor Robotics lessons to 25 less advantaged school children — enabling mathematics, science and technology to come alive.
The day ended with an interactive drumming workshop with The Drum Café evidencing through music that with collective purpose and vision; the power, strength and even rhythm of our voice can be heard that much louder.
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
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