Thank You, Tata
Patients at Baphumelele Respite Care Centre in Khayelitsha could not hide their happiness and smiled frailly in their sickbeds when they received new blankets, groceries and other goodies from parliamentary officials. The centre, which cares for people diagnosed with HIV/Aids, TB and other diseases was one of six community centres visited by Parliament staff for charity work to mark Nelson Mandela International Day on July 18.
Officials from Parliament temporarily left their workstations and computers and invaded the local townships to do voluntary work in children’s centres, hospitals and schools.
At Baphumelele the visitors donated groceries, helped to make beds for the patients and cleaned the centre. The patients were excited to see so many visitors and receive their gifts.
“We are very happy that Parliament staff came here to do spring cleaning for us- something we are not able to do often,” said Sister Marion, a manager at the centre.
Patients are referred to Baphumelele by local clinics and doctors, and they usually spend between four and five weeks at the centre.
At Walter Teka Primary in Nyanga, parliamentary officials donated books and gave motivational talks about Mandela. They also planted trees and helped clean the schoolyard before singing “Happy birthday, Madiba” with the learners and teachers.
Ms Lydia Radebe, Public Relations Manager for Parliament, said it was important for the institution to interact with the citizens because “we exist because of the communities.”
Addressing the learners at Walter Teka Primary, Mr Obert Plum of the Public Education Office in Parliament told the children about the importance of education.
“Mandela loves education, he believes education plays a big role in the liberation of everyone. It can make any child a better person, so take these books that we are donating here and read about your country and the world so that you can be better people,” Mr Plum said.
He recalled that former President Mandela, who was elected President following the first democratic election in South Africa in 1994, is also passionate about the welfare of children.
Once, while strolling through the Tuynhuys garden with Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, who was visiting the new democracy, Mandela spotted an excited group of schoolchildren gathered at the footbridge from the Company Gardens side, murmuring “Mandela, Mandela”. He strolled over to them, thanked them for the visit, and turned to introduce the PLO leader. “This is uncle Yasser,” he said. “He is a big leader today, because he always did his homework. Do you do your homework?” Forty little faces peering through the fence nodded earnestly, yes, they always did their homework!
“Although he only served us for five years as President, we benefitted from his leadership for many more and he continues to inspire us,” Mr Plum said.
Mr Tebogo Tsheole said though it was only Mandela who could spend 67 years working for his country, today’s generation could also do something, even if it was not for so many years.
Other places that received visits and gifts from Parliament were Inhlanganiso High School in Khayelitsha, Saambou Primary School in Athlone, Baphumelele Respite Care Centre in Khayelitsha and Beautiful Gate Children’s Home in Mitchells Plein
In 2009 the United Nations General Assembly declared 18 July “Nelson Mandela International Day”, in recognition Mandela’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. People are encouraged to spend 67 minutes helping others.
by Sakhile Mokoena