Mandela Day 2013

Posted under Eco-Tourism Blog by Grootbos on 19th July 2013

Happy Birthday Madiba!!

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

The concept of ‘Mandela Day’ was an international recognition of Nelson Mandela’s pursuit of peace and equality. For 67 years he fought relentlessly for the rights of humanity, and so it was decided that his birthday would become a worldwide call to action for people to create a positive change for those around them for 67 minutes. One minute for every year that he dedicated to the people.

The Grootbos Foundation decided to celebrate Mandela Day by walking through Beverly Hills (an impoverished area in Blompark) and donating t-shirts and tracksuits to the children. The staff and volunteers of the Youth Development Programme walked beside the u/15 boys from Masakhane in an effort to teach the endearing lesson of giving. 
The boys from Masakhane are also underprivileged, yet the lesson was to show them that there are people equally and less fortunate than them. It was also a valuable lesson to show them what giving can feel like, how it can enrich one’s life and that it is the building blocks for a better future. 
A small crowd gathered at the sports grounds and we started making our way to Blompark. As we walked through the township children and adults of all sizes began joining our group. There were talks of Mandela, children running between legs or holding hands, neighbours waving and the small entourage gradually became a throng of people. 
When we reached our destination the t-shirts, tracksuit pants and jackets were handed out to the volunteers and boys so that they could distribute the clothing to the children. Some received their gifts with shy smiles and others with jubilee. All in all it was a humbling experience. 
We began to make our way back to the sports ground to play a friendly game of soccer. We left the grounds as a small group of people and returned with a crowd of children ready to play. The field became a hub of activity as the boys played friendly soccer games and the girls sang and danced vibrantly. To end off the day a 5-A-Side Soccer Game was played by the u/11 and u/13s. This was managed and supported by the u/15 boys. The kids were then given a hot dog and a small speech was made to thank everyone and pay tribute to Madiba. 
The field was filled with an array of different cultures, backgrounds and skin colour. Yet there was only unity, love and endless smiles to be found. It was a day Madiba would’ve been proud of. 
Happy Birthday Madiba!! – from everyone from the Grootbos Foundation to Masakhane and Blompark. 

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