Volunteering: Mandela Day and beyond!

“So, like it is extremely boring, but I’ve never felt so good about myself. While we were in the car afterwards driving away, it was nice to see so many homeless people eating the food I helped make,” Sam Mendelsohn, age 10, sharing after volunteering with Mensch Network Member Danny Diliberto’s organisation, Ladles of Love.

Mandela Day this year marks the 10th anniversary of Madiba’s passing in December 2013. 

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has themed their 10-year remembrance with the call to action, The Legacy Lives on Through You. What a beautiful and appropriate reminder that each of us has a role to play in transforming South Africa — with actions big and small. In the words of young Sam Mendelsohn quoted here, we’re reminded that often, in giving of ourselves, we gain as much, if not more, than we give.

For the past six years, Mensch has hosted a community ‘cook-a-thon’, an action and volunteering day to mark Mandela Day. A day that invites our community to pitch in, actively support and learn more about Jewish-led organisations in our Mensch Network, working to better society. Later in the year in mid-November, we also help to activate the International Day of Volunteering, Mitzvah Day, across Southern Africa. Joining over 40 000 people world-wide, Mensch helps to create community-volunteering projects in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Johannesburg and even Namibia! A great deal of work goes into these two flagship volunteering days, and this year we are taking things up a notch: extending the reach and impact of these two once-off events into a three-month volunteering programme! 

An opportunity to volunteer beyond Mitzvah Day

Mandela Day to Mitzvah Day! We are offering you an opportunity to volunteer on a regular basis, at times that suit you, and in a way that serves the organisation you’re working with. As a Mensch volunteer on this programme, you will be part of a cohort of Capetonian Jews volunteering across the city in a variety of ways. We will meet monthly to connect, reflect and dig a little deeper into what is innately Jewish about the act of service; and discuss the tensions of doing this work in our context. 

So, join us at this year’s Mensch Mandela Day communal cook-a-thon, meet and learn about the organisations looking for volunteers as part of this longer-term volunteering programme!

More about Mandela Day

In partnership and with support from the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the UJC, we will be chopping vegetables to make 2 000 delicious, nutritious meals to be distributed by the Angel Network via their feeding programme. The fresh produce used to make these meals will be sourced by our partners, the SA Urban Food and Farming Trust (SAUFFT), from their network of small-scale urban farmers in Langa, Mitchell’s Plein and Khayelitsha. SAUFFT is developing a series of ‘agrihubs’ with support from the Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) Global Relief and International Development arm (GRID). These agrihubs serve as a source of support for small-scale farmers, providing access to everything from seedlings and compost to peer-led training and knowledge transfer opportunities. 

For more information about Mandela Day and the volunteering programme, please check the Mensch website www.mensch.org.za or email gina@mensch.org.za

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• Published in the July 2023 issue – Click here to start reading.

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