Making a difference on International Mandela Day – 18 July 2013

CAPE TOWN: Staff and friends of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation spent Mandela Day tidying and painting the Marconi Beam Public Primary School, improving the physical environment and uplifting the spirit of the school community.

Although the activity took place on Mandela Day, the relationship between the Legacy Foundation and its neighbouring school is an enduring one. In May the Foundation arranged for the sponsorship of a shipping container to be used as a kitchen.

“Charity begins in our hearts, in our homes, in our communities. We have been working with Marconi Beam Public Primary School for a little while now, contributing what we can to developing stronger and better equipped young people,” said executive director of the Foundation, Reverend Mpho Tutu.

She congratulated school principal Ms Elizabeth Plaatjies-Resha for the energy she was bringing to the community, and she thanked the event sponsors Makro, Old Mutual and the Mediterranean Shipping Company.

Wishing Mr Mandela well on his 95th birthday, Reverend Tutu said it was easier to talk about legacy than to walk the talk. “It is incumbent on all South Africans to demonstrate that the hope Mr Mandela represents is our collective hope, that we can be what we knew we could be in the extraordinary 1990s.”

Chatting to media after demonstrating some skill with a paint roller, Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke of Mr Mandela’s extraordinary ability to unite people – even from his hospital bed. Mr Mandela’s hospitalisation, accompanied by public schisms among his family members, contained important lessons for all about the responsibilities of human beings to safeguard the dignity of the elderly and infirm, and to adequately prepare for their own and their loved ones inevitable onward journeys.

Archbishop Tutu suggested that if there was one practical thing South Africans could do to honour Mr Mandela – not just today, but every day – it would be to commit themselves to stop littering, to respect our environment as much as we respect Mr Mandela.

Elsewhere in the country, Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation board members also contributed to Mandela Day. Don MacRobert addressed a seminar in Alexandria (Johannesburg) to encourage young people to start their own businesses and help to combat unemployment and joblessness.

In Bloemfontein, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela worked with young people from the community of Namibia Square on plans to build a corrugated iron Community Recreation Space.