Mandela Day is a day where South Africans take out time to reflect, for 67 minutes, what they can do to help the lives of others. The day is a day of much pride to South Africans and it gave our local team great pleasure to join the VMware Foundation’s Good Gigs team on 18 July to help with their Mandela Day celebrations.
The day kicked off in Diepsloot where the Good Gigs team are currently working with the LEAP 4 School in the area to help develop digital literacy platforms for the teachers and learners of the school. The actual work the Good Gigs team are doing is incredible – as they aim to leave a sustainable mark on the lives of those in the community and the school.
We met bright and early at the school in the heart of Diepsloot where the team was put to work by learners and teachers, in the kitchens to make soup which would later be taken out to some of the poorer extensions of the Diepsloot settlement to feed the children of the community.
Knives were chopping onions, carrots, potatoes and meat – all designed to make a hearty meal for the children. Then bread was cut, buttered and sandwiches were made… The day was truly defined by everyone’s willingness to jump in and help. Not one knife wasn’t being used, not one surface was left clear as everyone jumped in to help.
A small team of VMware people and learners were then rounded up, loaded into a taxi, and left to go and assist in painting the outside of a day care in the heart of Diepsloot. No one asked questions, they all just jumped in to help where they could. The energy and feeling of belonging was electric.
Once the soup was made we were sent out into teams to serve it to different parts of the community. Loaded in taxis the drive was for many of our international visitors quite spine chilling. They had never seen such poverty in one area – but at the same time so much happiness.
On our arrival, children started spilling out of their home and parents and grandparents started lining up their children to come and get food. Learners, staffers, helpers, teachers and every available hand was called upon to help. There was singing and dancing, crying and laughing, and in 15 minutes a pot of about 40 litres of soup was finished!
The team, elated and at the same time devastated at what they had evidenced made their way back to the school for an informal braai with the learners and teachers of the LEAP 4 School.
The learnings from the day were tough. There is always someone in greater need than you think they are. Communities in Africa work hard to pull together to help their own. 67 minutes is never enough – one day is not a Mandela Day – every day should be a Mandela day.
From the VMware South Africa folks – a huge shout out to the VMware Foundation Good Gigs team. You are a truly special crowd of selfless individuals and we are proud to be part of a family in which you form the soul!