In 2009, the United Nations declared the 18th of July, Madiba’s birthday, as International Nelson Mandela Day. To honour his celebrations, Madiba called on all people to help their communities in ways they could best. This year, Smile FM spent over 67 minutes in service of the Joyce Ndinisa Educare Centre in Old Crossroads.
Fully kitted in their yellow shirts and signature optimism, the Smile Team revamped the centre’s rickety jungle gym, replaced a worn-down stove top and donated a much-needed collection of toys for the children. In collaboration with FUTURELIFE, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Hope Worldwide, a warm breakfast filled the little bellies, and their playground was painted in bright colours.
Xoliswa Mkabine, the director of Joyce Ndinisa Educare Centre, said that this had been the first time a group of corporations visited the centre and offered their free time. She was lost for words.
The children at Joyce Ndinisa face many hardships, from gun violence and crime to struggling households unable to afford meals. The centre offers the children of the Crossroads area a safe space to learn, eat, and just be children – without fear. Days of goodwill, like Nelson Mandela Day, are vital, “we need to show people the reality, it’s important to see what children are going through. Today, we are standing in the cold and the dark, but children are going to be coming in shortly for their only meal a day,” explains Mark Bunn, Managing Director at FUTURELIFE.
The centre operates in teaching and feeding nearly 100 children, regardless of the little funds it receives from the few parents who can afford to pay their fees. The staff never turns a child away, working tirelessly – with next to no pay – to create a loving, safe space for the children.
HOPE worldwide SA support many ECD centres like this one by distributing meals, training staff and supporting infrastructure upgrades around the country. Futurelife® and The Nelson Mandela Foundation collaborating with HOPE worldwide SA means this support can be ongoing and sustainable.
While the children proceeded with their morning prayers and song, the Smile Team busted out the power tools to repair the jungle gym. They installed a sturdy new swing set along with a brand new slide. The worn-out wood of the play ladders was secured with new slats and shiny bolts.
Citizens are encouraged to offer 67 minutes of their time on Nelson Mandela day. The time is in appreciation of the 67 years that Madiba spent fighting for human rights. This year, the tagline of this day is: “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
“I want my centre to be big and one of excellence! Hopefully, we can get more sponsors and then share the funding amongst other ECDs that are struggling,” says Xoliswa.
If you wish to follow in Smile FM’s footsteps – beyond Nelson Mandela Day – feel free to contact Xoliswa Mkabine, the director of the Joyce Ndinisa Educare Centre. (0739269126) You can also simply contribute at www.futurelife.com and your donation goes straight to meals for vulnerable children around the country.