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Making Madiba proud

Nelson Mandela Day commemorates the lifetime of service Nelson Mandela gave to South Africa and the world. The message behind Mandela Day is simple – everyone has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better. On this day, South Africans and Unisans gave 67 minutes, and sometimes more, of their time in service of others. We pulled together just some of the many kind initiatives that made a difference in the lives of South Africans in need.

Unisa’s Material and Process Synthesis (MaPS) engineering research unit formed a partnership with the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) to install about 20 bio-digesters in and around Johannesburg. The digesters will be installed in communities in NGO’s within a 200km radius from the Unisa Science Campus. The digesters are to benefit the communities as well as to promote and educate communities on biogas in South Africa. The first bio-digester will be installed at the South African Riding for the Disabled Association (SARDA) at the Earth Centre in Ruimsig. SANEDI invited Unisa to join them in celebrating Mandela Day at SARDA. Both MaPS and SANEDI spent the day painting and clearing up the centre. Pictured is the MaPS and Engineers without Borders team from Unisa as well as the SANEDI team after their 67 minutes at SARDA.

Unisa’s Cape Town Campus felt that 67 minutes was not enough and started at the beginning of this year. Staff met on a regular basis to knit blankets and to collect other items suitable for donation, such as toiletry products, clothing and educational items for the It’s Amazing safehouse. This NGO offers community outreach and education support programmes to those in need in the heart of Heideveld and Gugulethu. The knitting circle at Unisa received quite a number of items from generous staff, so much so, that they were able to do two handovers in the last six months. Pictured are a few members of the knitting circle doing the first handover with Marelize Slabbert from It’s Amazing!

Poetry took centre stage when the Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature in the College of Human Sciences and the Unisa Poetry Society honoured Madiba through the art of language. The annual 67 Poems for Freedom commemoration of former president, Nelson Mandela, was held in collaboration with Freedom Park. Reciting poems about the theme of freedom, the event emphasizes the importance of engaging with the concept of freedom in the South African context. What is the meaning of freedom 23 years after South Africa’s first democratic election? How is freedom expressed in our daily lives as South Africans? The project is not only about celebrating freedom in its historical context, but also reinterpreting the concept of freedom in our daily lives as citizens of the country. The rock feature represents the 7 significant events of the South African history. These are: Genocide, Slavery, Wars of resistance, South African War (Anglo-Boer war), World War 1, World War 2 and The Liberation struggle.

The College of Agriculture and Environmental Science (CAES) set a challenge for themselves for Mandela Day this year. The challenge was to collect 670 cans of food for needy beneficiaries. Not only did this college meet this challenge, but surpassed it too by collecting 1040 cans of food. The Mandela Day heroes have the numbers to show their respective commitment in terms of cans collected: Deanery (272), Department of Geography (205), Department of Consumer and Life Sciences (95), Department of Agriculture and Animal Health (76) and Labs (52).

The Office of the Vice-Chancellor and the Department of Communication and Marketing (DCM) worked together to assist two NGOs – Potter’s House in the Pretoria CBD and Bophelong Children’s Home in Mamelodi. This team called on the Unisa community to assist with donations of toiletries and placed collection boxes at various points. The kind donations were later handed over to Bophelong. DCM staff spent some time with the youth on Mandela Day, and this entailed playing soccer with the boys and other games with the little girls. The youth were also treated to meals before receiving the much-needed toiletries from Unisa.

Nico Swart from Unisa’s Department of Finance and Risk Management and Banking decided to make this Mandela Day count by enlightening South Africans on financial literacy. He visited several businesses where he distributed financial literacy books. He believes there can be no economic freedom or transformation without personal financial literacy and knowledge of the subject, personal financial management. Swart is the author of more than 80 books on personal financial planning and financial literacy. In the last 30 years he has committed more than 50 000 hours of financial literacy related community outreach, service and engagement.

Unisa’s Advocacy and Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities (ARCSWiD) in partnership with QuadPara Gauteng North, donated three wheelchair accessible toilets to the value of R25 821 to three people who were in dire need of accessible toilets in Hamanskraal. Unisans pictured here at the handing over of the generous donations are Pintias Nkuna and Sophy Mabaso from ARCSWiD, Tebogo Jiyana from IOP department, Tsatsawane Nyoni from CEMS, Andries Sebothoma from ISD, Simon Mangaye and Caroline Maluleka from QuadPara Gauteng North with staff members from Amalooloo.

Unisa’s Ethiopia Centre staff members celebrated the Mandela Day at the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa on 18 July 2017. The Embassy commemorated the day by bringing more than 25 vulnerable children and presenting them with gifts collected from individual donors and from the Embassy. The Ethiopia Centre staff has also discussed possible collaborations in future events to celebrate Mandela Day, with additional community outreach projects. Many invited guests, Embassy staff, diplomatic community and the media attended the ceremony.

For Mandela Day this year, Unisa’s School of Computing prepared soup, bread and tea for about 136 homeless people at St Michaels and All Angels Anglican Church in Sunnyside, Pretoria. Pictured is Bester Chimbo (School of Computing) and the team preparing the meal.

The Department of Entrepreneurship, Supply-Chain, Transport, Tourism & Logistics Management (social committee) reached out to the elderly this year. They visited the Holy Cross Home which is residential frail care center and hospice based in Pretoria. The Unisa team invited staff members to brighten up the day of the elderly by taking flowers and plants for their rooms. The brief was to be as creative and colourful as possible.

The Division of Community Engagement and Outreach designed special social justice tours to raise the consciousness of Unisa staff on issues of sustainable development, nation building and social justice. This year the DCEO hosted two 2017 Nelson Mandela Day Social Justice Tours to share the vision of Higher Education as a vehicle for social transformation, distinguish between relief, charity and sustainable development and encourage greater community engagement and sustainable development consciousness and action among Unisa stakeholders. The first tour took place on 18 July, and was designed for external stakeholders. It uncovered critical development themes in an Inner City context and explored the role of business in sustainable development and nation-building. The second tour took place on 21 July, and was specifically designed for Unisa staff. On this tour, they explored a township context

Staff members of the Institute for Social and Health Sciences (ISHS) participated in activities in Jackson informal settlement in Johannesburg south to mark this year’s Mandela Day. The highlight of their participation was the building of a new home for a needy senior citizen whose shack had collapsed a few weeks earlier. The construction of the new home was enabled by the partnership with two concerned social workers who operate a feeding centre in the area. Contributions from the ISHS staff came from funds raised through the sale of donated clothes, as well as donations raised for building materials such as cement and cool coatings. The Institute also donated a new 2-plate LPG stove and 9 kg gas cylinder with first refill. The building will take about a week to complete. Other activities included cleaning up the feeding centre, and painting fixtures at the centre. The feeding centre provides hot meals to about 100 children daily, and several elderly people receive breakfast and evening meals on site. The centre has a small library and playgrounds that young children utilise as a safe space in the intervening time between school and when parents return from work. The range of Mandela Day activities in which the ISHS participated was informed by the Institute’s work on burn injuries, the reduction of other unintentional and intentional injury, and the promotion of safety and well-being, especially for young children and the elderly.

Unisa students from various structures participated in Mandela Day activity at the Sunnyside Campus on 18 July. Their focus was on cleaning the open area in the Sunnyside Campus. According to the Chairperson of the Tshwane Regional SRC, Toki Monene, clean environment contributes to a better safety and security environment in that if objects that have potential to attract criminals are eliminated, criminals would not have a place to hide. It is for this reason that the students involved in the cleaning campaign focused on clearing of refuse, logs, twigs, shrubs and other objects in the space/area between Eskia Mphahlele Building and Green Trees gate.

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