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On Nelson Mandela Day, a group of City staff joined the private sector in cleaning and cooking at Ithlokomeleng Old Age Home in Alexandra.
THE residents of Ithlokomeleng Old Age Home in Alexandra joyfully spent the day with City officials, and were delighted with donations of blankets and food parcels from the City.

 

New blanketsInmates at Ithlokomeleng get a feel of their new blanketsIn observing their 67 minutes on Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July, the member of the mayoral committee for health and development, Nonceba Molwele; the Speaker of council, Constance Bapela; and other officials cleaned up Ithlokomeleng Old Age Home and prepared lunch meal for the elderly.
 

“It is an honour and privilege to celebrate this remarkable day with our elders. It is fulfilling indeed to have made a difference today,” said Molwele.

“These are the people who made us who we are today. This must not end today; we must continue caring and looking after the elderly. People, it is a good thing to do.”

Molwele said the 67 years that Mandela dedicated to serving people was motivation enough to continue caring for the community each day. “We are celebrating the sacrifices that Mandela made in the liberation of South Africa.”

In carrying out the initiative, the City partnered with Sun International Hotels and other private companies. The Ithlokomeleng Old Age Home was established in 1978 by the Alexandra community leader and political activist, Majorie Manganyi.

Some 33 years ago Manganyi saw the hardships faced by the elderly residents of the impoverished township. At the time, during apartheid, they lived in old cars and shacks as they could not afford to build houses.

Driven by a love for her community, Manganyi, who is affectionately known as Mother Teresa of Alexandra, worked towards her vision of building a home for the elderly. Using corrugated iron, she built shacks on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Josias Madzunya Street, where she accommodated a few homeless old people.

 

AnnaAnna Bopape received a food parcel from the CityIn time, more shacks were built with community help. Five years later she started building brick houses from her own pocket. Today the centre is well equipped with proper houses and ablution facilities. Care givers are employed to look after residents.
 

But its function goes further than simply a haven for the elderly. It is also a soup kitchen, feeding dozens of homeless children and unemployed women each day.

Emily Gumede, a 65-year-old unemployed mother of three, goes with her children to the centre every day for lunch. “Ithlokomeleng help us a lot because we are unemployed,” she said. “We are living in shacks and we can’t afford to buy food. At least one meal a day is something, is not like not eating at all.”

Another resident of Alexandra, 59-year old Anna Bopape, who received a food parcel from the City, said Mama Manganyi was doing “a great job for us and our families”.

For Manganyi, 33 years later the struggle continues. “There are still many people in this community who need help and I will be happy if this establishment could be extended.”

Her hard work has not gone unnoticed: in 2005, she was awarded the national Order of Baoba by the former president, Thabo Mbeki. Ithlokomeleng Old Age Home was officially opened in 2007 by the then minister of welfare, population and development, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.

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