Painting, knitting and cooking: Mandela Day brings people together

Activities ranged from painting an animal clinic, knitting for charity and taking free health services to the doorsteps of elderly people

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Faith Sotondoshe, founder of Nande’s Kitchen in Langa, Cape Town was one of the many volunteers who joined Ladles of Love to mark Mandela Day on Tuesday. She is pictured packing samp, beans and gravy mix into a container that will be distributed. On the container she wrote: “Packed with love”. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Painting an animal clinic in a township, passing down knitting skills, soup kitchens and medical students volunteering services to the elderly are just some of the ways South Africans marked Mandela Day.

GroundUp attended a few events in Cape Town and Durban.

Cape Town

Charity organisation Ladles of Love hosted a variety of crafts activities. Volunteers made soup mix jars and included special messages. They also made colouring books, children’s toys, knitted items, and sandwiches. These items and the soup jars are being donated to early childhood development centres.

Founder Danny Diliberto said, “Mandela Day is about 67 minutes and how it brings people together … operating from a place of kindness.”

Diliberto said that thousands of people had volunteered their time to Ladles of Love by Tuesday afternoon. “If we want to live in a better world, we need to help the people that don’t have it,” he said.

Community Media Trust, the organisation that formerly owned GroundUp, made 200 food parcels for Ladles of Love to distribute.

Hundreds of people in Parow were given a warm meal and clothes during a joint charity drive on Tuesday. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

A collaborative charity drive in Parow provided hundreds of people with warm food, blankets, party packets, and clothes. Founder of charity organisation SA Unite, Ashley Rix, said it was important to offer support to those who were “less fortunate than us”.

Rix said the organisation frequently does community soup kitchens, assists victims of fires, and assists victims of gender-based violence.

Similarly, Bernie Macmahon, founder of Bernie’s Rising Angels, spoke about how important it was for “children to have a warm meal every day” which would help them “rise above their circumstances”.

Volunteers and staff of Mdzananda Animal Clinic’s satellite facility in Site B, Khayelitsha painted the containers bright orange at the weekend to mark Mandela Day. Photo: Masixole Feni

On Saturday, volunteers armed with paint, brushes, and brooms gave the Mdzananda Animal Clinic’s satellite facility in Site B, Khayelitsha a much-needed facelift.

The satellite clinic was previously known as SA MAST but due to severe financial strain following the Covid pandemic, the clinic has since been taken over by Mdzananda. The clinic offers a range of services to stray animals and pets in the township.

“We have painted the external a bright orange - the Mdzananda brand colour to signify the management takeover,” said Marcelle Du Plessis, spokesperson for Mdzananda.

“The new look also uplifts staff’s spirits and expresses to the public that if the outside of our facility looks as good as the work we do inside for the animals,” said Du Plessis. She said the community is “very supportive” and relies heavily on their services as the only animal clinic and shelter in the community.

“Private veterinary care is generally too expensive for community members,” she said. To educate about how to care for pets, Du Plessis said Mdzananda does educational outreach through mobile clinics, door-to-door education and workshops.

The main animal clinic in Mandela Park currently caters for about 45 patients and the shelter facility holds about 50 stray dogs.

Volunteers at the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa in Philippi spent time playing with dogs and giving them treats. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

The Animal Welfare Society of South Africa (AWS SA) in Philippi, which also offers services like sterilisation, received a lot of support, volunteers, and donations despite the pouring rain on Tuesday.

AWS spokesperson Allan Perrins said that they “knocked it out the park” and “silenced the cynics who disbelievingly questioned the enormous amount of good associated with this engaging annual celebration that honours and marks Tata Madiba’s revered legacy”.

“Quality of life is sacrosanct,” said Perrins. He said some dogs have been in their care for a long time and that love, affection and exercise allow them to socialise, which improves their chances of getting adopted.

A young girl learns to knit during a Mandela Day event at Scottsdene Library. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

At Scottsdene Library, in Kraaifontein, volunteer Susan Pietersen hosted a knitting class for young children from the area. Pietersen, who also embroiders, crochets, and sews, said it’s important for children in the community to “develop a skill in life… no matter how small it might seem”. She taught several young children, as well as some librarian staff, to knit headbands, beanies, and boots.

Librarian Vuyokazi Tatana said, “It’s important for a community like ours, a community like Scottsdene, to take kids away from the street.” Tatana said that handiwork like knitting “keeps them busy” and “makes a difference”.


Volunteers from the Masibambisane Care Centre, in partnership with the South African Medical Student Association (SAMSA), took essential health services to the doorsteps of scores of elderly people in Cato Crest. Most of the older people in the community usually have to wake up early to walk far distances to their nearest health facilities and queue for hours.

On Tuesday, Nompumelelo Mafutha from the Islamic Medical Association (pictured above) was among a dozen medical volunteers who conducted free health screenings in Cato Crest. These included vital blood pressure checks and other chronic illnesses. Photo: Tsoanelo Sefoloko

Masibambisane’s founder Lizzy Mkhize told GroundUp that she started the organisation in 1998 after seeing how great the need was for health services in the township.

“At that time, the community members had little knowledge about the chronic illnesses, so my centre helped them a lot. Within just three years of opening, everyone in the community knew about our centre,” said Mkhize.

TOPICS:  Human Rights

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