Mandela Week at Rhodes should be longer than just one week

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Two teachers and a social worker from Rainbow Kids were moving very quickly around the very small kitchen at the Service Centre for the Elderly on Jacob Zuma Drive on Thursday 30 July. Tinashe Mhangara, Jennifer Rushin and Betty van Vught prepared lasagne for the elderly ladies at the centre as part of their contribution to the Trading Live week. While they feverishly chopped, peeled, soaked and gathered the food, the elderly ladies on the other side sat patiently waiting while practising their newly acquired crocheting skills. Jennifer Rushin had taught them on Monday to create long crocheted strips for hanging in the doorway. “You just use your fingers and plastic packets that you have at home,” Nomfundo Mthana commented.

While these ladies were taught this new skill and were being cooked for, all three employees from Rainbow Kids firmly agreed that the week had been beneficial for them too. “We finish school at 12.30 every day and then go home and do the same thing every week, this week has been different. I’ve made friends and learned things from the Xhosa culture that I never knew about,” Rushin explained while smiling and wiping the counter. Mhangara also loved the week saying that there is nothing like it at home in Zimbabwe. “It’s so good to be taught about sharing your time and giving more to the community, our kids at school have learned a lot and it’s wonderful to see”.

With the week having been so effective in creating bonds in the community and sharing laughs among people, why is it only one week? Betty van Vught expressed her desire for the week to carry on, saying “it shouldn’t just be one week, and it shouldn’t only be in celebration of Mandela. There’s so much to do in the community that getting involved like this should be a permanent thing”. She explained that it is definitely about getting out of our comfort zones to form new relationships and learn about other people.

There is certainly no lack of opportunity to get involved permanently. The Service Centre for the Elderly is partially funded by the Department of Social Development, but much more funding is required for the work done at the centre. The elderly who come every week day are given both breakfast and lunch, physiotherapy exercise sessions, game playing afternoons and reading times. The centre needs much more funding to be sustained. Furthermore, equipment like a microwave, knitting implements, food and other knick knacks are desperately needed for the work done to be more effective.

The Rainbow Kids ladies left after serving the meal with that very same burden on their hearts; to continue to serve at the Service Centre. They left with contact details and a promise that they would be back again. If you would like to get involved or donate any items, visit 16 Jacob Zuma Drive (turn right at the robot and the entrance is on the corner) or contact 078 321 8519.


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