On Wednesday, 18th July 2012 the South African Embassy in Brussels joined South Africa, and the world in celebrating President Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday.
For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity, first as an activist, then as a human rights lawyer, he become a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected President of a free South Africa.
Nelson Mandela International Day, also known as Mandela Day not only celebrates Nelson Mandela’s life, but it is a global call to action and for people to recognize their ability to have a positive effect on others. The day hopes to inspire people to embrace the values that Mr Mandela represents, which includes democracy, freedom, equality, diversity, reconciliation, and humility.
The South African Embassy in Belgium took heed to this call for action. So, as a token of our appreciation to uTata Nelson Mandela’s achievements and for inspiring us to be change makers in the world, both the local and transferred staff volunteered their time to 3 Children’s Home’s in the Brussels City Centre.
We had staff members, spouses and their grown-up children sewing clothes, fixing bicycles, washing toys, washing windows and shutters, painting a garden fence, rearranging and cleaning children’s bedrooms, as well as cleaning a play room. All these activities happened much to the surprise and admiration of the staff at these Homes who were most grateful to us for giving them an opportunity to spend more time with the children entrusted in their care. In honouring the work of Nelson Mandela, staff had an opportunity to bond in a fun environment while they performed their labor of love.
The Embassy also participated in the UN Mandela Day celebration, promoting 67 minutes of community service, which was hosted by the United Nations Regional Information Centre in Brussels. Activities included a radio interview with a local Flemish radio station, posters and a slide show with photos of President Mandela with Children and appropriate quotations by him. A message box was made available for people to send messages to President Mandela. Some of the notable visitors included the former President of Finland Marti Antisaari and the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson who are both members of The Elders, an International Non-Governmental Organization of public figures.