On 18 July 2013, South Africa (and the world!) celebrated International Mandela Day by spending 67 minutes to "make the world a better place."
Why 67 minutes?
Because Nelson Mandela has devoted 67 years of his life to actively changing the world. He started his first human rights campaign in 1942 at the youthful age of twenty-four and 67 years later (26 of which he spent in prison) the world celebrated the first International Nelson Mandela Day in 2009.
What did you do with your 67 minutes?
In South Africa, you need to only take a single, literal step to encounter someone in need. A neighbour, friend, gardener, or beggar at the street corner. Sixty seven minutes are mere drops in the ocean of time, but the comfort, support and hope provided during these precious minutes can spread to 67 days, months, or even years.
On 18 July a group of us spent the day building, painting and planting vegetables at Mokgwaneng Pre-school, close to Marblehall where 80 children from the area attend the pre-school and receive a meal every morning. For some, this is their only meal for the day. Many small feet walk the endless dirt roads between the local communities and the school daily for the enjoyment of wheeling old tyres through the dusty playground.
As we drove up to the school, peering out of the car windows, a parent turned to his 8 year old son and said in a paternal manner: "Imagine what it must be like living here."
With a frown his son smartly replied: "Why would I imagine that?"
Why indeed. Unless you are not privileged enough to imagine otherwise.
|Before: The Classrooms and Playground|
We grabbed the tools, brushes and supplies we had brought and set to work straightaway.
|Painting the Classrooms|
By the time our paint supply had almost dried up, we still had a whole wall to cover. Luckily a smart problem-solving engineer (who knew engineers could be this creative!) devised a brilliant plan to turn the few drops we had left into a work of art.
|A Welcoming Sight|
More and more kids turned up as we worked, staring at the vibrant paint with fascination, clapping their hands and singing songs they have been taught at school.
The end result was magnificent.
After 5 hours of work, 20 people had accomplished more than we could have imagined: Supplying water to the school, planting two vegetable gardens, painting 3 classrooms inside and out, and even building a jungle gym.
|After: Classrooms, Vegetable Gardens, Jungle Gym|
Then, my favourite part of the day: Playing vroteier with the kids. Because how can you fully appreciate being a child if you have never played vroteier?
|Fun and Games|
And so another happy, blessed Mandela Day had come to an end.
Although, in South Africa, it is easy to make every day a Mandela Day.
"We must use time wisely and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right" ~ Nelson Mandela.