NELSON MANDELA DAY – 67 MINUTES OF CHARITY WORK
Nelson Mandela or Madiba as he is affectionately remembered is a huge influence here in his homeland of the Xhosa. South Africa celebrates his life on his birth date the 18th July each year, and each and every one is asked to do something good for someone else for 67 minutes on that day. Why 67 minutes you may ask? Well that is as many years as he spent in public service.
“Today, Tomorrow, as one Together” is a local mantra in Mandiba’s honour.
BEULAH’S ‘DAY OFF’
So today in his honour Beulah Mauz of African Dive Adventures decided to hit the road armed with sponge cakes, lollipops, crisps and childrens clothing. With a small dedicated team of three from our Ocean View hotel and African Dive Adventures, we set off for 67 minutes of charity work in the local community here.
For Beulah it is a strong ambition to help others as much as she can. She has a strong nurturing instinct and a powerful sense of right and wrong. Whether its animals or people, she will go that extra length to make sure they are looked after and taken care off. It was her idea to drive through the local area in search of the needy, especially children, in Mandela’s honour on Mandela Day.
CORAM DEO ORPHANAGE
We packed the car full of goodies and off we went. Our first stop was a small non-profit run orphanage, high on a hillside outside Coffee Bay. The Coram Deo orphanage is owned and run by Eureka and her husband, and they have 16 orphans in their care from 2 to 12 years.
If you count little Amy, there is actually 17, but Eureka personally adopted Amy after she was literally found dumped in a dustbin. She is a delightful little thing who despite her youth, knows what a lollipop is and can certainly turn on a 2 year old tantrum if she finishes it and you won’t give her another!
The chldren seemed happy and well cared for. They had two “mothers” who live in with them at all times and care for them. They have a little school and a small playground. Government sponsorship and grants have been applied for but money is a long time coming. And so the orphanage at the moment manages only on gifts and private funding. Their web site is soon to be released as with the new ownership the old one had to be changed. They are always looking for benefactors so if you feel it in your heart to help these kids, please go onto their web site and get in touch with them.
Most children who become orphans here do so because both parents die, usually of infection, principally HIV. Whilst things have improved in the last 5 years here, the rate of infection is very high, and there is still a lot of stigma to admitting that you are sick and have HIV. So many refuse to get help or don’t take the tablets regularly or take the whole course. There are now local clinics and a mobile clinic distributing medicines but more education is needed to change their way of thinking.
We left the orphanage with a big sponge cream cake and gave the children lots of lollipops and some clothing for the little ones. By the time we left there were plenty of smiling faces, both back at the orphanage and in our car.
THE ‘TIN SHACK’, COFFEE BAY
We then went on to a small village about 10km from the hotel. Beulah had noticed a small tin shack by the roadside, which stood out from the other homes which were rondavels or square block constructed two roomed houses. We pulled up to see 4 or 5 small children playing outside with three dogs, a kitten and three chickens roaming around together. With Naza and Yvonne as translators it appeared that the single mother was in town somewhere and had left the children alone. She apparently had a drinking problem and spent most of her government money on alcohol. The kids were left uncared for and unfed. They hadn’t eaten for more than a day and by the look of the animals they hadn’t eaten for longer.
So instead of going on to our second orphanage, we cut up our second huge cake and gave them all a big piece each. I don’t think they had ever eaten cake before but they had huge grins on their faces after. Even the animals ate sponge cream cake. I have never seen a cat, dogs and chickens all eating cake, never mind watch a small chicken challenge a dog for a piece of sponge cake before…and win!
The neighbours spotted what was going on and soon enough we had a lot more children and a few local women join us. We decided rather than give the children money, we went to a local food store and bought them some basic provisions, rice, flour, meile (ground maize) and soup powder so they could have some food cooked for them when their mother returned. When we were sure the children had the food and the neighbours didn’t take it from them, we left to our last stop.
MENTOR MOTHERS, COFFEE BAY
We had no food left just older children’s clothing so off we went to find Kate, from Mentor Mothers in Coffee Bay. Kate manages a local Trust to help women and children in need. She was fantastic and very enthusiastic about our meagre offerings. She assured us that the last of our clothing bundles of joy would be distributed at her strict discretion as she always made sure clothing went to those most in need. Her organisation is very strict and only helps those with a minimal monthly wage or who do not receive government monies.
We set off home after a good three hours driving around in our quest to find truly needy people with near nothing to sustain them and it wasn’t hard. This is a tough country. The government is making moves to help the poor socioeconomic groups of the population but they aren’t doing enough. What we did was a small drop in the ocean, but at least for a day or so it may have brought a smile on some children’s faces and perhaps showed them that perfect strangers do care and will always try to help if they can.
Beulah, you are a saint and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for inviting me along today. It certainly opened my eyes to a severe reality check and makes you really wonder what our world is about when some of us have everything and others near to nothing.
[For more photos of our day out for Mandela, go to Photos-Africa]