A jubilant crowd gathered at Bophelong Children’s Home to celebrate Mandela Day
July 18, 2009 – The Nelson Mandela Foundation teamed up with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) today to donate books to disadvantaged children in greater Pretoria.
Mandela Day calls on people from around the world to dedicate 67 minutes of their lives to making a difference, in recognition of the 67 years Nelson Mandela dedicated to humanitarian work. In doing so, people will honour and celebrate his legacy.
Throughout Mr Mandela’s career he has been admired for his commitment to providing education to the children of South Africa. It is in this spirit that the Foundation and SAQA staff members visited four orphanages in the Tshwane area to donate over 300 books.
The Foundation visited four homes: Boitumelo Community Home Centre, Mahube Home, Tshwane Home of Hope and Bophelong Children’s Home. Foundation staff gave out hundreds of comic books about Mr Mandela’s life, kindly donated by comic book publishers Umlando Wezithombe, as well as books donated by SAQA.
Hilda Mlungwana, a child care worker at Bophelong Children’s home, was ecstatic with the donation. “Wow – it was great. It meant a lot to us and my children. With these books, I will be able to help the children learn how to read,” she said.
One of the homes that Foundation staff visited was the Boitumelo Community Home Centre, in Block X Soshanguve, which is home to 35 orphans.
Sophie Msiza, who runs the orphanage, was overwhelmed by the donation. “I’m so happy I don’t even know how to express it. The Foundation has shown me that there are people out there who love us,” she said.
Msiza assured the Foundation that the donated books would be used to educate the children in her home. “Mandela said we must help the needy. These books have been donated to us, so we can have a better future,” she said.
A string quartet started the celebrations by playing “Bhuti ngihamba nawe.” But the children took over as they chorused their thanks by singing “Happy birthday, Madiba!” The celebrations attracted passers-by as the children danced, clapped and laughed.
Fifteen year-old David Rampempe recited a poem he had written for Mr Mandela. He thanked him for giving them a place to call home and encouraged young people to make something out of their lives to make Mr Mandela proud. “I’m very happy about today, and the books we got. I will read them because I love to read. Mandela must grow old like an elephant – happy birthday, Tata,” he said.
Ntsiki Gumbe, director of strategic support at SAQA, said of her organisation: “Our role is to ensure that there is quality education in our country.”
Gumbe approached her colleagues, asking them to donate books. “The response blew me away; I was amazed, my colleagues even volunteered to come here today. I hope we can take this further and do it each year,” she said.
Adding to SAQA’s donation, the Foundation donated the collated volumes of Nelson Mandela: The Authorised Comic Book, which tells the life story of Mr Mandela in a serial, graphic form – making it more accessible to a younger audience.
Nyati was taken aback by the welcome they received. “I feel honoured and am so excited about this; I want it to be an annual event. Children are a blessing, and we are fulfilling what Mr Mandela started. He would be so happy right now,” she said.
“As musicians we need to make children dream. Being here today means we are expanding their ability to dream. Entertaining them and making them feel loved and appreciated – this is our 67 minutes to Mandela Day.” – Thembela Vokwana, vocalist with string quartet
“I thought I should spend the day with these children, because they don’t have parents and they need to feel loved. Madiba must grow old and reach at least 100 years.” – Solly Makgunda, resident of Block X, Soshanguve
“I would like to thank Madiba for the opportunity to help orphans and make them feel loved, as if their parents were here. He must grow old and I thank him for opening doors for us.” – Meshack Mashiloane, resident of Block X, Soshanguve