“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”- Nelson Mandela
Mandela Day is celebrated internationally every year on July 18. The day celebrates Madiba’s (Nelson Mandela’s clan name) life and legacy by promoting acts of service and positive community change. Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years, so Mandela Day asks for individuals to start with 67 minutes.
South African winery MAN Family Vitners, located in Stellenbosch, knows the importance of giving back to the community.
Like the saying goes, “charity starts at home,” so last year, MAN decided to devote their #67 minutes to one specific charity in the immediate community. Just down the road from MAN offices in Jonkershoek is Akkerland pre-school.
Akkerland pre-school, or crèche, cares for two age groups: babies and toddlers up to three years old, and ages 3-6.
July is South Africa’s coldest month, so much of MAN’s work for Mandela Day was centered on ensuring the preschool was prepared for the cold weather. Everyone from the farm workers at MAN to the office staff came together to serve the preschool in a variety of ways—from buying carpets to cover the floors to donating educational toys and books to buying warm blankets and clothing.
While volunteering at the preschool, one of MAN’s employees, Maia Bezuidenhout, noticed two young brothers, Imbo (2 years old) and Sohiso (5 years old). These two brothers, raised by a sickly single mother, were especially unprepared for the cold weather. So Maia went to the mall to buy them a few pairs of warm clothing and shoes. A few months after Mandela Day, Maia ran into Imbo, Sohiso, and their mother. The boys’ mother had not forgotten and was so grateful for the help.
This year MAN visited Akkerland in June to prepare for and see how they could best serve on Mandela Day. There, they learned Imbo and Sohiso’s mother had passed away and they were being raised by an aunt far away. While not every story has a happy ending, and while often an act of service might feel like only a drop in the bucket, the smallest devotion of time and the smallest act of service can truly make a difference and have a ripple effect.
This Mandela Day, MAN again spent time at Akkerland, fixing cots, preparing the school for winter, and making sure they had supplies, from nappies to blankets. But MAN’s relationship with the preschool doesn’t stop after 67 minutes or even after a day. The team plans to make monthly visits to the preschool to spend time with the children, to take them to lunch, and perhaps to focus on specific families in need (inspired by Imbo and Sohiso).
MAN sees the importance of giving back to the community, keenly aware of the overwhelming needs of the underprivileged and underserved in the community.
MAN believes in promoting change and constant progress.
MAN is #WineforGood.