Making everyday a Mandela Day
17 August 2015

Members of the Jesuit Refugee Service, South Africa Country Office, Johannesburg team, along with their partners from 12 schools, having collected 15000 cans of food. (Samson Ogunyemi / Jesuit Refugee Service)
Johannesburg, 10; 17 July 2015  - Thousands of South Africans spread good will through their acts of charity in 67 minutes of service on Mandela Day. It is an important day, bringing together all ages, genders, races and people with one goal in mind, to emulate the patriarch of our great nation and serve others.

It is truly encouraging to know that many South Africans and many organisations take it a step further and do not wait for Mandela Day, or 67 minutes to do something meaningful for others.

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), based in Johannesburg is one such organisation. JRS, in working with refugees and asylum seekers, was deeply concerned by the recent spate of xenophobic violence that hit South Africa during the first half of the year.

Apart from speaking out against this unfortunate scourge, JRS also works toward creating social cohesion between foreign nationals and ordinary South Africans. How better to create this social cohesion then with the help of the youth?

On the 10th July 2015, JRS along with 12 schools embarked on a drive to collect as many cans of tinned food as possible.

The net result was 15 000 cans of food collected and distributed for the underprivileged.

The theme of the day was #WeAre1! and the despite the organising committee largely consisting of grade 12 learners who want to excel at their final examinations, these young leaders of tomorrow cast aside their personal, academic priorities and goals, came together and demonstrated their solidarity with their foreign brothers and sisters as well as those with less to eat than themselves.

On the 17th July, in commemoration of Mandela Day, JRS paid a visit to Nazereth House, a Hospice facility. Again a large contingent of canned food was delivered but the crux of the day, was the time spent with terminally ill patients.

The most valuable part of the day was spent chatting to people who have very little access to the outside world, undergoing palliative care, the majority of whom have little to await but death.

Mandela Day is celebrated and commemorated on the 18th of July, but it does not have to be limited to this one day. Every day gives us an opportunity to remember Madiba and his service through our service.

That is what is needed, we need to stretch ourselves, venture outside of the comfort zone in creating a better South Africa.

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