A Canadian Youth Leaving Mandela’s Dream
The late President Nelson Mandela’s incredible positive influence on people is acknowledged globally; his values and remarkable leadership traits inspired the world; and as result In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July "Nelson Mandela International Day" in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. Mr Mandela, affectionately called Madiba by many in reference to his clan name, has used his influence to promote peace and justice. South Africans have named his persuasive abilities the Madiba Magic. The Madiba magic had no boundaries and limitations as we will find out from the interview with Leonard Nolasco from Toronto in Canada, currently on assignment in South Africa as a Project Manager for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. Nolasco has vast experience working with SickKids; a Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario –Canada
Nolasco spoke to the Fund’s media team about the power of Madiba Magic.
1. Briefly share your experience of Mr Mandela's visit to Canada, and how old were you at
I was 13 years old and remember being told by my grade 8 teacher that there was an opportunity for students at my school to attend an event in Toronto called “Mandela and the Children.” Anyone who was interested was asked to write an essay as to why they wanted to go. I remember writing about Mandela being an inspirational role model for all people and someone whom we should all aspire to become. As many know, we Canadians hold Madiba in high regard.
2. The experience you just described, how life changing was it?
46,000 students from across Canada filled the seats of the SkyDome in Toronto. It was the first time I had been part of an event of that magnitude. There was a lot of cheering, dancing, and excitement in the air. Many referred to the event as the world's largest classroom lesson with Mandela as our teacher. The atmosphere was incredible.
3. What message do you have for the youth, in particular South African youth?
One of my favourite quotes from Madiba is: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Everyone faces adversity at some point in their lives. If you feel that there’s something worth having, then it’s definitely worth fighting for.
4. Describe your role in the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital, and what it means to you.
I am a Project Manager working very closely with the Nelson Mandela Children Hospital Trust and Commissioning Team to support the commissioning and operationalization of the new hospital. When I saw Madiba in Toronto in 1998, it was to launch the Funs in Canada. 18 years later, I am involved in a legacy project that was started by Madiba and his Fund and to be a part of it is an absolute honour. It's as if everything has come full circle.
2016 INTERNATIIONAL NELSON MANDELA DAY AT NELSON MANDELA CHILDREN’S FUND
Making a Meaningful Contribution to Madiba’s Legacy
Nelson Mandela Day was launched in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on 18 July, 2009, via unanimous decision of the United Nations General Assembly.
It was inspired by a call Nelson R. Mandela made a year earlier, for next generations to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices and he said that
“It is in your hands now”.
It is more than a celebration of Madiba’s life and legacy. It is a global movement to honour his life’s work and act to change the world for the better.
Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund celebrated the International Nelson Mandela Day at its premises on 18 July 2016, partnered by Nedbank and Nedbank Foundation who donated paint and material to paint the Fund’s outside walls.
Both the Fund and Nedbank staff volunteered, together with the University of Johannesburg’s students who are part of Nedbank’s Community Building Programme.
Staff of Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Nedbank, Nedbank Foundation and Volunteers from the Nedbank Community Building Programme UJ students ready to paint the walls of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund Offices, Saxonwold, Gauteng.
Bill Gates speech mirrors the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund new strategy
Bill Gates speech at the 2016 Nelson Mandela Annual lecture was a depiction of several issues of importance that are contained in the new five year strategy of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
The Fund is particularly appreciative of the similarities as they rekindle the good working relationship it had in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Other similarities with both Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Fund are shared below:
Mr Gates outlined in his speech the challenges of infant mortality, education and the need to create an enabling environment for the youth to thrive and innovate.
In the Fund’s programme of Child Survival, Development and Thriving, the focus be on interventions in the first one thousand days of life. Bill Gates said “In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 12 children will die before they turn 5. This is a vast improvement compared to 25 years ago, but African children are still 12 times more likely to die than the average child in a wealthy country”
Youth Leadership is another programme where the Fund will focus on Think Tanks that will create platforms for youth to engage on issues of ethical leadership, civic participation, human rights and entrepreneurship. Gates speech affirmed the importance of investing in youth:
“When I started Microsoft in 1975 – at the age of 19 – computer science was a young field. We didn’t feel beholden to old notions about what computers could or should do. We dreamed about the next big thing, and we scoured the world around us for the ideas and the tools that would help us create it.
But it wasn’t just at Microsoft. Steve Jobs was 21 when he started Apple. Mark Zuckerberg was only 19 when he created Facebook.”
Gates also touched on new thinking and new tools in education system: “Investing in good education to make sure that a high quality of education is available to every single child” – based on the research the Fund undertook, safety and protection in schools is a priority. A safe school environment will create an enabling environment for learners to be innovative through technology and other means.
The Fund is encouraged to learn that it is on the right path in trying to achieve its objectives, which are aligned to those of the philanthropists like Bill Gates.
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) is deeply saddened by the untimely death of Gugu Zulu, a sports enthusiast with a caring attitude and passion for humanity, particularly the vulnerable children and youth in our society.
Zulu lost his young life on the international Mandela Day of 18 July 2016 while on a humanitarian mission with a group of fellow South Africans including his wife Leshego. Zulu and the team were climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on the Trek for Mandela fundraiser to buy sanitary pads for poor South African girls.
The CEO of the Fund, Sibongile Mkhabela, remembered Zulu’s participation in the 2004 Altech Formula One two-seater race, which benefited the Fund: “We are still shocked by this sudden loss of a young and talented man, whose commitment to charity work benefited the children and youth of this country. We convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. May his soul rest in peace.”
Johannesburg: The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (Fund) has on Friday 15 July 2016 celebrated significant milestones in the 21 years of its existence. A moment of silence was observed for the deceased 7 children and 1 caregiver at the Lakehaven Child and Youthcare Centre in Durban before the celebration proceedings commenced.
The Fund, its main beneficiaries the children and other partners celebrated the birthday of its late Founder Nelson R. Mandela at the Johannesburg office. The celebration was used to reflect on the achievements of the Fund in changing the lives of the children for the better, the building of a new Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital that is due to open in due course; and the completion of a new five year strategy from 2016 to 2021.
The new strategy was informed by a comprehensive research on the state of the South African Children; and the findings identified poverty, lack of access to quality education, and lack of formal housing as some of the pressing issues affecting children. This research has informed the Fund’s new strategy which will focus on three overarching themes being Child Survival and Development; Child Safety and Protection and Youth Leadership. The Fund is emboldened by these interventions and preparations are well underway to roll out together with its implementing partners.
As the Fund marks 21 years of existence, the theme – “Madiba’s legacy through the eyes of a child”; is a befitting tribute to the Founder.
The Fund CEO Sibongile Mkhabela says the organisation will continue to honour Mr Mandela’s wish of celebrating his birthday with the children, and she welcomed guests from Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Nigeria by saying Madiba stood for all Children of the African continent. Also present at the event was the Head Coach of the South African Senior Men’s National Team (Bafana Bafana) Shakes Mashaba, who recently won the COSAFA Championship in Namibia.
“For many years Madiba gave fully his time and energy; engaging the youth in vibrant discussions about their dreams and hopes; telling stories; and finally sharing his birthday cake with his eager little guests. In memory of Madiba, we continue to celebrate his birthday by giving our children the space to play, speak and command attention. Together with our NGO and corporate partners we are privileged to honour the country’s youngest citizens. This year we will again be with our children doing what we do best; giving them a chance to be kids, and ensuring that their voices are heard. We are honoured to have the doyen of African story telling Gcina Mhlophe narrating Madiba’s life journey to the children”; said Mkhabela.
The story telling tradition will create an environment for children to talk to each other and express their views through art and play.
The event presented an opportunity for children and young people who have never interacted with Mr. Mandela to learn about his values and principles through storytelling, poetry, dance, painting, exhibition stalls, Spelling BEE, Video Screening, rides, jumping castle and other artistic activities for children. The cutting of a well decorated birthday cake brought joy and excitement to the children.
The 2016 Annual Children’s celebration hosted by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (Fund) had a very strong Continental focus; this African perspective was reflected in the welcoming address by the Fund CEO Sibongile Mkhabela.
She described Mr. Nelson Mandela as a leader who stood for the rights of all children, and particularly the African children. It was befitting for this year’s birthday celebration to have guests from the eight African countries that are also in South Africa for the Africa Spelling Bee contest which is scheduled to take place on Saturday 15 June at the cradle of Human Kind. A total of 27 children from 9 African countries will participate in the spelling contest.
Story teller and Author Gcina Mhlophe also welcomed the spelling bee delegates and presented them with CD’s and Books as a gesture of appreciation for promoting literature.
The Annual Children’s Celebration remains the children’s way of honoring Madiba as the children’s champion whose demonstrable commitment to their well being found organisational expression in the establishment of the Fund in 1995.
This year marks the 21 years of the Fund’s existence.
The Annual Children’s Celebration is a child-centred occasion giving children an opportunity to celebrate Madiba’s birthday in a manner that most suits them. On this occasion, over the years, care is taken to ensure that children are the centre of focus with adults affording them the space to express themselves through song, poetry, debate and play.
The Annual Children’s Celebration is one of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) calendar events. It started off as a time Nelson Mandela allocated during his birthday month to celebrate with children. The Annual Children’s Celebration has not stopped with Madiba’s passing. The event continues to give children the opportunity to celebrate the work of the Fund and keep Madiba’s legacy alive in a manner that most suits them.
As a tribute to our founder’s legacy and love for children the theme for this year’s Children’s Celebration is; “Madiba through the eye of a child”
Over the 21 years the Fund has been working tirelessly to change the way society treats its children and youth. On its 21st anniversary, the Fund wishes to reflect and showcase the proud life changing work it had done in the lives of children. This age normally signifies maturity in a person’s life and it’s celebrated by handing the new adult a key which symbolises ‘a key to the world’, in the case of the Fund this also signifies maturity and changing gears, which is why the Fund has is in the process of implementing a new strategy which is agile and more focused to better address issues relating to children.
Based on its priority focus areas, the Fund has identified three overarching themes for interventions; Child Survival and Development, Child Safety and Protection, and Youth Leadership.
This focuses on youth leading in coming up with solutions to the challenges they face and youth as agents of change.
The Annual Children’s Celebration ranks as one of the Fund’s platforms to give children a voice, and this year’s The Children’s celebration is scheduled to take place on the 15 of July, from 09:00 until 14:00 at the Nelson Mandela Children’s offices, 21 Eastwold Way, corner Oxford Rd, Saxonwold.
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