On 18 July, people around the world donated 67 minutes of their time to helping others in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday, symbolic of his 67 years of service to humanity.
The UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Canberra joined the High Commission of South Africa in Australia to volunteer at the St Benedicts Community Day Centre lunch in Queanbeyan, NSW.
St Benedicts acts as a refuge for vulnerable people in the area and provides meals five days a week to an average of 50 people a day.
The South African High Commissioner to Australia, Her Excellency Ms Koleka Mqulwana, spoke to UNIC Canberra about the importance of International Nelson Mandela Day for Freedom, Justice and Democracy.
“This day allows you to understand his character and reminds South Africans that what he achieved was a collective effort that included the international community,” she said.
The Community Day Centre was decorated with Jerrabomberra Public School students’ artworks and posters about the life and work of Nelson Mandela.
Year six student Harry English read a poem about Mandela as “one of the greatest leaders of all time” and 11 year old Rhea Laverock silenced the room with an awe-inspiring speech on racism “It’s just not funny.”
The day ended with singing Happy Birthday to “Madiba”, complete with a birthday cake.
UNIC Canberra celebrates Nelson Mandela’s birthday every year by volunteering with the High Commission of South Africa at different community organizations to raise awareness for his work and legacy.