Mandela's legacy is caring for others

Monday, July 7, 2014

Johannesburg - Former President Nelson Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, says Madiba’s legacy is about caring for others.

“The important thing is in your own way, do something to touch the life of someone next to you. Madiba’s legacy is not only about the big things… it is about caring for others and anyone of us can do it,” Machel said on Monday.

She was speaking in the third annual Trek4Mandela send-off ceremony in Johannesburg.  

Trek4Mandela will see a group of explorers driving through Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania before summiting Mount Kilimanjaro on 18 July - Nelson Mandela International Day.

The team will stop over at schools en-route to discuss Madiba’s legacy and distribute sanitary towels to young girls.

The group -- led by Caring4Girls founder Richard Mabaso and the first black African to conquer the "Three Poles", Sibusiso Vilane -- will include celebrities like Tebogo “ProVerb” Thekishoa.

They will raise money for the Caring4Girls project – which provides puberty and menstrual hygiene education to young girls in rural areas, as well as distribute sanitary pads.

Over the past two years, the initiative has donated 130 000 packets of sanitary pads within communities, reaching 40 000 girls.

The target for the Trek4Mandela challenge is to raise a minimum of 67 000 packets of sanitary pads, in line with the 67 minutes for Mandela Day.

Mabaso said he started the initiative after overhearing a fearful conversation between his mother and his niece on menstrual challenges.

“I thought of how many orphaned and vulnerable children we have in our country that do not have that opportunity to ask,” he said.

This got him to take action and inspire change through establishing the Trek4Mandela expedition to create awareness on the plight of underprivileged girls in rural and poor schools during their menstrual cycles. 

Statistics indicate learners from disadvantaged communities miss up to 50 days of schooling annually due to not having sanitary towels and in some cases, this has led to some dropping out.

Mabaso believes the trip emulates Mandela’s long walk to freedom, and the determination to overcome obstacles and reaching one’s goal.

Vilane, who is also the first black African to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, said he chose to participate in the initiative because he wants to help keep girls in school, while boosting their dignity.

“I am not excited about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for the sake of being an adventurer. I am climbing it because it has meaning to me, it has meaning to a girl child as it brings self-esteem and making them proud to stand up to say, ‘I am a woman’,” Vilane said.

Machel said she was touched by the initiative.

“I am not sleepless about the future of South Africa because I know that we have brilliant young people, who do not hesitate to take action and face the challenges head on.”

About Mandela Day

The United Nations General Assembly declared 18 July, Madiba’s birthday, as Nelson Mandela International Day, which is dedicated to his work and the values he lived by.

The day is also dedicated to the service of others by actively helping to change their circumstances.

The 2014 Mandela Month celebration is particularly symbolic, as it is the first one since former President Mandela’s passing.

Government has called on South Africans to embrace the opportunity to celebrate the Mandela Month by giving 67 minutes of their time to build a cleaner and better South Africa.

In his State of the Nation Address last month, President Jacob Zuma called on South Africans to practice a healthier and cleaner way of living by taking care of their environment and cleaning up the areas where they live. –

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