There was cake and sweets, jumping castles and soccer balls, but most of all there were children with huge big smiles on their faces.
The first International Mandela Day saw Heartlines and the International Marketing Council pledge their time to making a difference to the lives of some 120 children from various orphanages around Johannesburg.
Children from Nkosi’s Haven, Vuka TB/Aids Project and Philane Informed Choices gathered at The Wilds in Houghton, Johannesburg, to celebrate former President Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday. As a face painter transformed little faces into spider men and butterflies, party packs were handed out before the children gathered to a plant in a tree in Madiba’s honour.
“I think Madiba is the best man in the whole wide world,” said five-year-old Precious Nteka.
According to Archie Sithole of Heartlines the call to perform some form of humanitarian action on the first International Mandela Day was one that neither Heartlines nor the IMC could ignore.
With both organisations being founding members of the “It starts with you” campaign launched last year to spur South Africans onto doing good, Sithole said for Mandela Day they decided to host a birthday party for the man dubbed the “the world’s greatest statesman”, inviting children particularly because they are so close to Madiba’s heart.
Mandela Day was launched this year with the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and has the ability to make an impact. Celebrated on 18 July, Nelson Mandela’s birthday, the call goes out to each individual to spend 67 minutes making a difference.
Sophie Masipa, IMC Marketing Manager: Brand Building, said this initiative was a perfect way of getting people to live out the values embodied by Madiba. “But more so, it raises the question of what we are going to do for the next 67 years of our lives.”
Both Masipa and Sithole said the birthday party was aimed at providing staff of both organisations a coordinated approach to spending their 67 minutes. “I am having so much fun,” said Tumelo Selepe of Heartlines, while playing with a group of children on the jumping castle. “Just seeing them enjoy themselves is extremely fulfilling.”
According to Sithole the day was also about celebrating values. “Having compassion for the less fortunate, but also being grateful for what we have and respecting the environment was part of this day.”