The Vice Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso has expressed gratitude to UMP staff and students for rolling up their sleeves to do 67 minutes of community work.
Professor Mayekiso thanked UMP staff and students and said that their efforts were not in vain after they dedicated their time to doing community work at different schools and centres around Mbombela.
Mandela Day started with staff members and students separated into groups. Professor Mayekiso and Deputy Vice Chancellor: Academic, Professor Richard Bernard spent time at Cyril Clarke Secondary School planting trees and giving career guidance to learners.
The Vice Chancellor said: “The 67 minutes doing community work at the school was fruitful for UMP. We also got to spend time with the principal discussing other projects that the University could assist the school with. One of the projects we have identified is assisting the school to improve their Grade 12 pass rate, particularly in agricultural subjects. We will also arrange for the Grade 9 learners to visit the university.”
Another high school, Jacob Mdluli in Matsafeni was visited by the Dean of Students Dr Paul Maminza who was accompanied by Mr Frans Leautle, Mr Viljoen and Dr Machingambi. They helped out in the vegetable garden planting beetroot, onion and spinach seedlings.
“The school has an Environmental Club, which has committed itself to taking care of the gardens. We are happy to have been able to contribute to the school in keeping with the spirit of Madiba,” said Dr Maminza.
UMP student and founder of Giving Hand Foundation, Thuso Thuloane, SRC president Castro Mashabane and other students were at the SOS Children’s Village in KaMagugu, cleaning the home and repacking library shelves. “We did the garden and handed out the donations that were put together by the University,” said Thuloane.
RC President Castro Mashabane added that Mandela Day is for giving and sharing with the less privileged, "Today we are reminded of the sacrifices that we have to make to improve the lives of others. It serves as a reference to introspect on what we should continue to do daily."
Some staff members, who were tasked with knitting blankets, hats and scarves, went to Hlayisani Community Nutrition and Development Centre in Ngodini. The group led by Patience Motha, donated the knits they had made, to the centre. They ended the day by planting a tree that would symbolise caring, growth and togetherness.
Ms Motha explained that Nelson Mandela committed his life to the liberation and working for the country. “As a university, we are happy to assist the community, more especially the local centres, because it is our responsibility to help those who are less fortunate and in dire situations."
A representative from Hlayisani Centre, Thandiwe Sithole was grateful for the help they received. She said the 67 minutes with UMP has assisted with basic necessities.
Sithole said: "We are very thankful to UMP staff for the help, support, visit, and donations of items we have always needed but could not get because of lack of funding. People might say that 67 minutes is not enough but to us it has helped more than we could have imagined.”
Showing appreciation to staff and students for their participation on Mandela Day activities, Professor Mayekiso said: “It was heartening to see you UMP staff and students making a contribution in the lives of others. Individually, our work may look like a drop in the ocean. Working collectively though, our impact becomes an ocean itself. Few days galvanize us so powerfully like the Mandela day.”