Mandela Day: United We are Strong

United We Are Strong

“…ninety-two, ninety-three, ninety-FOUR!!” The crowd’s chant could be heard throughout the neighbouring communities of Philippi as it celebrated Tata Madiba’s birthday outside the buzzing Red, Green and Gold Educare. South African flags streamed proudly through the streets as a spontaneous rendition of Nkosi Sikeleli iAfrika broke out. One might be struck a little short of breath when first witnessing the depth of pride that beams from South Africans as they sing their national anthem; today was no exception.

A group totalling no fewer than 70 arrived in waves throughout the morning at the little crèche in Marcus Garvy informal settlement in Philippi. With them came deliveries of food, books, fire extinguishers, South African flags and some good old fashioned muscle-power to help with everything from stirring soup and washing windows, to planting trees and moving stones from the children’s play area. All of these being in response to the ‘wish list’ of Head Mistress “Siya” – a lovely woman of calm confidence who could be found sporting her funky floral wellies in the midst of whatever work there was to be done. Today she welcomed helping hands and donations from many businesses and individuals from the tourism and hospitality sector, including Anix Consulting, Blue Flag, Discover Africa, Ashanti Lodge, Jewel Africa, Centre Stage Travel, and Laura Prast. All thanks to the critical coordinating and lobbying efforts of the Tourism Community Development Trust.

Siya and her team at the crèche met the Tourism Community Development Trust during a particularly bad flood during the winter of 2011. After weathering that particular storm, the crèche was still in dire need of a plan – complete with action to back it up – in order to avoid finding itself sloshing through water again in future. The Tourism Community Development Trust came with both; they organised an extremely successful gala dinner for this particular cause, hosted by the Mount Nelson and raising sufficient funds to build an elevated wooden classroom complete with an admin office, sick bay and toilet facilities! Since then, the Tourism Community Development Trust has continued to support the crèche by channeling the generosity of the sector, including this year’s ‘giving’ back’ activities in honour of Nelson Mandela’s birthday.

The Tourism Community Development Trust plays a very unique and effective role in responding to local needs such as these by mobilising and coordinating the contributions of tourism and hospitality businesses and individuals so that they have maximum impact. After all, individual contributions on their own are often not enough to meet larger demands. When you put them all together and focus them on a common goal, however, the bigger projects of community groups such as the Red, Green and Gold Educare can be achieved!