Spending 67 minutes honouring Mandela

CARL COLLISON

As part of this year’s Mandela Day celebrations, Kerry Hoffman and her team of Souper Troopers will be joining the nation in honouring the memory of Nelson Mandela by hosting an event titled Dining with Dignity.

Mandela Day is celebrated annually on July 18, the day on which, in 1918, the former president and liberation icon was born. As part of this annual celebration, South Africans are called to set aside 67 minutes of their day in the service of others.

As part of their contribution to this call, Souper Troopers will be feeding some among the inner city’s homeless community at The Service Dining Rooms, based in Canterbury Street. Established in 1935, The Service Dining Room is an organisation which serves the homeless community with hot meals on a daily basis.

Although they will be tying this event into Mandela Day, for the Souper Troopers volunteers, feeding the homeless is by no means a once-a-year affair.

Ms Hoffman, who founded the organisation two years ago, says: “Souper Troopers is a monthly social, distributing food, clothing and toiletries to the homeless and needy. After seeing homeless people in and around the Company’s Garden every day with no food or shelter, I realised there was a great need out there for assistance. My instinct was to help and do something, so I started serving soup and sandwiches from my car once a month.”

From this humble beginning, the organisation has “organically grown to such an extent that they have collaborated with The Service Dining Rooms, whose facilities they use on a monthly basis to have people eat, socialise and listen to speakers discussing practical ways to uplift and empower themselves and focus on restoring dignity”.

Souper Troopers is not a registered charity and Ms Hoffman relies solely on donations and volunteers to assist her on the day to the approximately 200 men, women and children who attend these monthly events.

Says Ms Hoffman: “We are celebrating Madiba Day by creating a diner feel at The Service Dining Rooms, where we will be in service to the homeless for the afternoon.

“In the spirit of Mandela Day, we’re asking people to share their 67 minutes with us; to bring an apron, an open heart and a big smile to serve our customers soup and sandwiches, and then coffee and cake, while they relax and enjoy their restaurant-style experience. The afternoon will end with music and celebration. Madiba had a way of making everyone feel loved and special, so let’s do the same.”

To donate to Souper Troopers, or to volunteer your services, email kerry@foodfantasy.co.za or call 079 572 0028.

Doing their bit for Mandela Day, the non-profit organisation, Relate Bracelets, has decided to embark on a campaign for national hope and solidarity with the launch of the Mandela Bangle initiative, which aims to support the Mandela Day Library Schools project. Money generated through the sale of the bangles will go towards old containers that are refurbished and stocked to be a library donated to underprivileged schools across South Africa. The deployment of refurbished shipping containers converted into libraries has been ongoing since 2011 with more than 80 000 children benefiting daily.

Relate Bracelets CEO, Neil Robinson, says: “South Africa has had a challenging time of it lately – socially, politically and economically. And whilst our country faces many difficulties, I believe there is an underlying spirit of ubuntu which is alive and well in millions of us. It is with this belief that we are embarking on the #My67Beads campaign initiative, this year.”

Involving the public, celebrities and corporate partners, Relate has invited individuals to each thread 67 beads, which will be joined together with other threads of 67 beads to create a long, united thread. This thread of beads will be transformed into an installation artwork, to be displayed at the V&A Waterfront.

It is the day’s ability to connect South Africans that Ms Hoffman sees as its main strength.

Quoting the late international human rights icon, Ms Hoffman says: “‘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,’ is what he said. So I believe every day should be a Mandela Day. His wisdom and way of being is inspiring for all humanity. Treating each other with respect, love and kindness can change our world.”

For more information on the Relate Bracelets,visit www.relate.org.za

Coats and wellies

The Community Chest, based in Bree Street, will host a “spread the warmth campaign” to help raise funds to supply more than 2 000 pre-schoolers with rain coats and wellington boots.

The organisation aims to raise R750 000 to supply these winter survival kits to children on the Cape Flats.

This is in an effort to reduce absenteeism in schools due to the poor weather conditions.

Community Chest CEO Lorenzo Davids said, “Winter is the year’s harshest season, and thousands of children from Cape Town’s disadvantaged communities don’t attend school because of a lack of basic necessities to keep them dry, warm and fed for the severe winter months”.

For more information, contact Bev du Plooy at 021 487 1500 or email: winter@comchest.org.za

Donate jerseys and jackets

Art of Living Free (AOLF) an NGO dedicated to education and humanitarianism, will be collecting jerseys and jackets as well as donating funds to Ladles for Love, an NGO volunteer soup kitchen for homeless people. The organisation, which is driven by Doppio Zero restaurant in St George’s Mall, was established in 2014. The organisation offers soup to the homeless living within the City Bowl. All the food given to the homeless is vegetarian and freshly prepared in their kitchen in St George’s Mall. The event will take place at St George’s Mall, in front of Newspaper House on Mandela Day, with the drive starting from 1pm.