Celebrating Madiba Day in South Africa

August 28, 2014
Rayne Stroebel

The legacy of Mr. Nelson Mandela is possible one of the best-known stories around the globe. His passion (and spirit of forgiveness) echoes The Eden Alternative philosophy – that we are called to make the world a better place. (Tikkun Olam – we need to repair this world.) Celebrating Mandela Day this year, teams of Elders and Care Partners reached out to those in need around them by donating time and resources and handing out treats to others who are less fortunate. These actions brought to life Principle Four of The Eden Alternative, that Elders should be part of a community where they are not the passive recipients of care, but where they can also contribute and give care. It showed again why Elders a valuable resource, and not a care burden.

The celebration of Mandela Day aims to serve as a global call to action for people to “recognise their individual power to make an imprint and help change the world around them for the better”, says the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

“Nelson Mandela has been making an imprint on the world for 67 years, beginning in 1942 when he first started to campaign for the human rights of every South African. His life has been an inspiration to the world,” the foundation said.

By devoting 67 minutes of their time – one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service – people can make a small gesture of solidarity with humanity and a step towards a global movement for good.

These are just a few of the many projects:

  • Blankets knitted and donated to a shelter for girls who are victims of the sex slave trade.
  • Pancakes baked and delivered to homeless people.
  • Care Partners from one home reached out to residents in a less affluent home and did manicures and pedicures.
  • Many scarves, warm knitted hats and blankets were handed out to less fortunate people.

And my personal favourite:

  • Residents living with dementia baked dog biscuits that they personally delivered to the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals).

This is how it affected some of those involved in these outreach projects:

“How 67 minutes changed my life and who I am! Yesterday I arrived at a house to deliver blankets. I was greeted by two lovely young ladies who showed me through to the kitchen where they had just started cooking something, welcomed me into the noise and laughter and proceeded to teach me how to make……….lemon curd! Only last week my son Michéle Balestra bought me some Lemon curd home from his holidays, which he knows I have fond memories of from my childhood, and I said “I need to learn to make this stuff” shoving a teaspoon in my mouth!

Those girls, my teachers, had been rescued from human trafficking and sexual exploitation and this was part of their process of healing and rehabilitation………..and they let me in!

They then went ‘home’ to their ‘safe house’ and I went home to take my children in my arms, share this story and cry on each other’s shoulders. I AM HUMBLED! I have found a cause! Thank you Madiba!”

-Gayna Balestra, Fish Hoek Eldercare


“Mandela Day, 18 July, was another eye opener for the need in our community.  Our residents at Summervale really opened their hearts by assisting with the buttering of sandwiches and supply of sweets and treats for the little ones on a very cold and rainy day in Gordons Bay.  The staff felt so humble to see how thankful the kids were for only a hot cup of soup and bread they received.

It also made us all realize that we should try and do good more often….not only on Mandela Day”.

-Lyn Pheiffer, Summervale, Gordon’s Bay.

The Eden Alternative in South Africa is not “restricted” to changing the culture of Care Homes – we are spreading our wings to make this country a better place for all who live here. Through servant leadership, our Elders and Care Partners realise that it is through giving that we receive, that it is in true, authentic relationships that we find shelter against the storm and peace in our hearts.

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