Mandela Day of food and fun

Blaine Antonio of Scottsdene tucks into a nutritious meal. PICTURE: THAIS ACKERMAN

On Mandela Day, marked on July 18 every year, people are encouraged to dedicate 67 minutes of their time to service.

It is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated on his birthday.

The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held in 2010.

This year staff of Cape Community Newspapers (CCN), which publishes Northern News and its 14 sister titles, cooked and served meals to members of the Scottsdene community at The Umtshayelo Foundation (TUF) in Brackenfell on Friday July 14.

TUF is an organisation that provides long-term support in education, training and work for communities in need.

In previous years, CCN staff collaborated with different departments in their company to donate bread and sandwich fillings and distribute them to communities.

This year, CCN worked on a solo project.

“This year the theme is ‘against poverty’ so today we are serving lunch to members of a disadvantaged community,” said CCN editor Chantel Erfort.

Once the guests arrived, staff members served tea and biscuits, followed by lamb stew and rice.

Some children voluntarily performed their talents for the crowd while the staff prepared the main course.

“We’ve got some staff who are peeling potatoes, cooking meat, cutting up butternut, preparing the veggies… the kids will be here, we will be playing with them and we’re really just contributing to a day of fun,” said Ms Erfort.

About 40 adults and 40 children attended the event.

“Because it’s holiday time, we can accommodate this for people that struggle sometimes during the month. So they have something for their stomach and we can entertain them,” said TUF’s Martin Pretorius.

Ms Erfort said this was a special event for her because she was able to connect with the community.

“As an editor you often end up sitting at the office day in and day out reading about the areas that your reporters are covering or reading about the people who are being featured in the news,” she said. “It’s not often that you really get to go out and truly engage with the people who are reading your paper and being written about.”

This was also a special event for the journalists covering the communities, Ms Erfort said.

“We go into communities and we write about poverty and we write about the difficulties that people are going through but we don’t really have an opportunity to get involved and make a difference on a very basic level,” she said.

Several advertisers including Mother of Plain Food Emporium, Food Lover’s Market, Giant Hyper Store, and Winners Supermarket helped make the event possible through donations. The Umtshayelo Foundation provided the venue.

Mr Pretorius was excited to mingle with the community members and said this was an event they would remember and that the guests would now attach a “special meaning” to Mandela Day.