Nelson Mandela Day with UNIC & St. George’s Diocesan School: 67 MINUTES in service

Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated annually across the globe on 18 July to honour the incredible and inspiring legacy of the late Nelson Mandela. Launched on Mandela’s birthday through a United Nations General Assembly resolution in 2009, the day calls for individuals around the world to dedicate 67 minutes in creating a positive impact in the world.

In light of the commemoration, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek collaborated with four schools in Windhoek for a month-long campaign against hunger through a canned food drive initiative. The project benefitted four local soup kitchens providing food and education to underprivileged children – one of the most vulnerable populations in Namibia.

On Tuesday, 18 July the UNIC team alongside St. George’s Diocesan School set out to make a positive difference at the Tilovayeni Care Foundation, a soup kitchen that caters for underprivileged children in Katutura.  The team and the St. George’s Student Representative Council (SRC’s) arrived in the afternoon at the community soup kitchen that is situated in the quaint suburb of Greenwell Matongo, and engaged with the children who are beneficiaries of the Foundation’s activities. The team aimed to disseminate educational discourse about Nelson Mandela and his values through a short presentation and games.

The interactive presentation was delivered on the fundamental concepts of the United Nations, Nelson Mandela and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), with each topic accompanied by a short video. The main focus was not only to inform the youth in the community about the importance of activism but to inspire and leave them with a durable sentiment that creating change in the world is still possible, and that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves.

A fecund environment for learning became palpable when the  UNIC team readily expounded the tribulations of Nelson Mandela. The children were engaged in a conversation that navigated his ability to overcome persecution and how his struggles hatched tenacious political campaigning and social movements that advocated sustainable peace and equality.

After the informative presentation, the children were treated to fun games including musical chairs, card games, soccer as well reading sessions and short poem exercises themed with the 17 SDG’s. The exciting activities incorporated objectives that necessitated critical thought, in particular providing subtle context for problems the planet faces; an outline of the goals set in place to address the problems; and assessment of how the world is accomplishing them; and most importantly, what one person can do to achieve change that can empower lives—much like Mandela did. 

Children of all ages participated and collaborated in helping one another achieve the learning objectives that were embedded in each of the games tailored to continue Nelson Mandela’s legacy. The excited children could be overheard energetically naming all 17 SDG’s and helping their peers answer questions that pertained to the SDG’s, fostering an atmosphere of team work.

St. George’s Diocesan School students facilitated the event and were exceedingly enthusiastic and supportive. Their efforts helped structure the event and ensure that a message of community engagement was upheld as youth participants felt that there were people within their community who genuinely cared for them.

The Foundation generously received the canned food, children’s books and sports equipment from St. Georges Diocesan School. Ms. Rauna, one of the teachers and caretakers of the children expressed her joy, saying, “I would like to thank the United Nations and St. George’s School for visiting. I hope this partnership continues because it brings happiness to both the children and teachers to know that there are people out there that care about the foundation.”

The Tilovayeni Care Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2011 by Ms. Biriha Embula. By providing food, clothes, education and social support to over 70 children on a daily basis, the Foundation ensures that these children are given an opportunity to succeed in life – a core value of Mandela’s legacy.