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In the north, a babies’ home was helped with donations; in the south, houses were handed to the disabled – just two of the many Nelson Mandela Day activities in Joburg.
THIS year, Nelson Mandela Day was characterised by many humanitarian efforts, which rippled over in almost all of Joburg’s administrative regions.

 

painting play equipmentRegion C staff paint play equipmentIn Region A, in the northern part of the municipality, staff in the urban management division donated money earlier this month to buy fabric and sew blankets for children at the Botshabelo Babies Home in Blue Hills. The home cares for vulnerable children who are either HIV-positive, were abandoned in hospitals or come from poverty stricken households.
 

“With the money collected from staff, Linda Vermeulen choose beautiful baby print fleece material and sewed individual blankets for 11 babies. On the morning of Monday, 18 July the staff got on the bus and drove to Botshabelo Babies Home,” said Gaynor Mashamaite, a City spokesperson.

The blankets, towels and toys were handed over by the regional director, Thembani Masilo.

“The moment we stepped on to the veranda the home was filled with laughter and smiles from babies. We all fell in love,” Masilo said. “We spent an hour with the children playing, bottle feeding and just learning from them how simple life can be. The staff of Region A urban management were overwhelmed by the love and care that Botshabelo Babies Home gives selflessly.”

While caring for the children, the Botshabelo home also tries to place every child in an adoptive family or reunite them with their biological family. “The home also supports these families through a support group for foster and adoptive parents,” said Mashamaite.

Lufhereng
Way across town, in Lufhereng, on the southwestern periphery of the metro, Joburg’s portfolio head of housing, Dan Bovu, handed over two houses to wheelchair-bound grannies, one of 58 and one of 84 years old.

 

caring for the disabledCaring for the disabledBovu told residents he was honoured and humbled to be the one handing over the homes.
 

The spokesperson for Joburg’s housing department, Bubu Xuba, said Bovu not only restored dignity to the elderly women, “but the dignity of their children and grandchildren who now have a place to call home”.

“Seipati Rathebe [the older beneficiary] burst out in song and prayer when she was handed the keys to the house, thanking God and ancestors that that which she had prayed for, she had finally received,” Xuba explained.

“The houses were specifically built to be wheelchair-friendly, with handles inside the bathroom and special taps to enable the beneficiaries to move about in the house without much assistance.”

Later in the day, Bovu was joined by his counterpart in the department of urban management and planning, Ruby Mathang, in a clean-up of Dube hostel in Soweto. The clean-up was initiated by housing staff and was supported by Pikitup.

“The filth surrounding this hostel is unacceptable as we have children that reside here and this is their playground,” said Bovu. “Tata Mandela holds children very close to his heart and in celebrating his birthday, we thought it would be a great tribute to create a clean environment for the children to play in.”

The construction company doing water reticulation at the hostel donated building material to a crèche in the area, “also lending a hand in making life better for the children who stay in Dube hostel”, added Xuba.

Old age homes
Both departments also hosted a luncheon and another clean-up at three old age homes – one in Bellavista, one in Pioneer Park and one in Bertrams. Groceries and vegetable packs were donated by the Joburg Market.

 

donating blanketsBabies at Botshabelo Babies' Home get new blanketsIn Region C, in the Roodepoort area in the west, 30 urban management staff donated recycling bins and blankets to poor residents of Bram Fischerville and Roodekrans.
 

“They began by helping severely disabled children at Pathways with painting the two houses where [they] are cared for,” explained Thembelihle Radebe, the Region C spokesperson.

“Johannesburg City Parks beautified their garden by planting shrubs and flowers, and assisted with general maintenance of the gardens. They helped with the children’s therapy, fed them and took them for strolls in their wheelchairs.”

Radebe said the day was concluded with the singing of the national anthem and happy birthday to Mandela. “We thank the City of Joburg for choosing to spend Mandela Day with us and we are very grateful for the donations and help given today,” said the staff of Pathways.

Clean up
Pikitup also honoured Madiba by dedicating 67 minutes to cleaning up illegal dumping spots. Participants, ranging from the general public to non-governmental organisations, were given rubbish bags and plastic gloves to clean up Windsor East, Slovo Park, Lolly, Mofolo Village, Meredale, Bram Fischerville and Orlando East.

 

Pikitup clean up streets in SowetoPikitup staff clean up streets in SowetoEducational campaigns were also conducted to raise people’s awareness of the environment.
 

Nelson Mandela Day is an annual commemoration of the icon’s life and a clarion call to every citizen to make an effort to change the world around them.

The idea is that the day will act as a catalyst for people to realise that ordinary individuals are able to help change the world, just as Mandela did.

The message driven by the initiative is that because Mandela devoted 67 years of his life to humanitarian efforts, everyone should give 67 minutes of their time on 18 July, his birthday, to support any altruistic activity.

This year Mandela celebrated his 93rd birthday with close family members at his birthplace in Mvezo, a village of Qunu in Eastern Cape.

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