Remembering vulnerable children on Mandela Day

Monday, July 18, 2011

Soshanguve - As a professional social worker, it was not surprising to see Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini in blue overalls getting dirty, cleaning and painting a centre that takes care of vulnerable and orphaned children.

In the spirit of building a caring nation, Dlamini spent the whole Monday at the Bophelong Drop-in-Centre at Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa Complex in Soshanguve in celebration of the Nelson Mandela International Day.

Officially opened in 2005, the non-profit organisation centre renders services to 114 vulnerable children aged between eight to 18 years.

Accompanied by her Deputy Minister Maria Ntuli, CEO of the South African Social Security Agency, Virginia Peterson and department officials, Dlamini made it clear that the day was not for speeches but more for work for needy people.

Speaking to BuaNews, Dlamini said Nelson Mandela Day means commitment, selflessness and putting others first.

"We've come to emulate and make a contribution on how to improve the lives of the people in the centre ... we are trying to walk in his [Mandela's] word and care for them, as it is our responsibility and they deserve extra care.

"I'll clean the house because I like a clean area and do some painting, which I did a lot while I was growing up," she said preparing to sweep the house.

Dlamini also reminded South Africans to make every day a Mandela Day and encouraged them to have the spirit of ubuntu.

"We need to contribute to our neighbours and when you see an abused kid, try and raise awareness and report it to the department. If the officials fail to do their work, we have to report them," Dlamini said.

The centre's project manager, Donald Ndou, described the officials' visit as a blessing and urged people who volunteered their services on the day to continue to visit the centre from time to time and offer their services.

"We appreciate the minister's visit today because what they are doing would have taken us days to complete everything, whilst they will just finish within a few hours ... they will even cut the grass to open the space where we will start a vegetable garden," said Ndou.

Four needy families each received a food voucher worth R1 140, donated by the department.

For Mabel Rambofheni, a TB patient who needs food before taking medication, the voucher means she will be able to get her nutritional needs taken care of.

She thanked the department for remembering people like her, who have no one to take care of them and often go to bed on an empty stomach.

"I live alone and rely on my neighbours for food as I take TB medication. The voucher came at the right time. At least for the next two months, I'll have food and be able to cook," said an elated Rambofheni.