Bikers for Mandela Day show the way

12 July 2011

The playground was brighter and the smiles of the children wider when the Bikers For Mandela Day finally pulled away from the Harrismith orphanage on Monday, the first of seven community projects that will benefit from this year’s expedition.

The Harrismith orphanage was abuzz with activity when the riders and support team arrived around midday after setting off from Montecasino, Johannesburg in the early hours of the morning.

At the press conference before the riders left, 5fm’s DJ Fresh spoke about his commitment to the seven-day, 13 hour and 37 minutes it will take Bikers For Mandela Day to travel the 2 200 kilometres planned for this year’s route.

“The 67 minutes that we are all asked to give on Nelson Mandela Day is just a starting point – the bare minimum. I personally would like the 67 minutes to be the inspiration for a deeper, longer involvement in changing the world for better,” DJ Fresh said.

Included in the group of riders are businesspeople, professional bike riders, and celebrities – among DJ Fresh, Angie Khumalo from 5fm and Metro FM, singer Bok Van Blerk, Survivor SA Maldives winner and Binnelanders actor Hykie Berg, actress Hanna Grobler, and actors Ivan Zimmerman (Egoli) Darren Kelfkens (7de laan and Isidingo) and Jack Devnarain (Isidingo).

Acting to inspire

Bikers For Mandela Day will donate 67 minutes of time at seven rural community projects over a week, acting as an inspiration for individuals around the world to donate 67 minutes of their time to give back in service to communities on Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July.

En route from Gauteng to the Free State, the highly visible group of riders was welcomed with open arms – at toll gates, at service stations and all along the N3.

At the Harrismith orphanage, a bright mural was painted and the playground livened up. It was when the children were given simple gifts from the sponsors (which include Vodacom and Spar as well as many others) that the real impact of Bikers For Mandela Day was felt – with many riders remarking how things they take for granted everyday brought such pleasure to the children.

The tour continues

On 12 July, the group will clean the monument and create a garden, including the planting of the “Mandela Gold” Strelitzia at the site in Howick near Pietermaritzburg where Nelson Mandela was captured in 1962.

The next day (13 July) Bikers For Mandela Day heads for Eshowe, were they will install shelves in the food storeroom and assist with food preparation and the upgrade of the vegetable garden at a school and drop in-orphanage.

Next (14 July) is Jozini, where Bikers For Mandela Day will work with several different community organisations in a soup kitchen as well as repair and improve the house of a child-headed household.

Wreath-laying at Samora Machel memorial

In addition to the work at the Howick capture site, one of the more poignant moments on the Bikers For Mandela Day 2011 trip will be when the group lays a symbolic wreath at Samora Machel’s Memorial site in Mbuzini on 15 July after their journey through Swaziland to Mbombela (Nelspruit).

Then, on 16 July, Bikers For Mandela Day will work with the Nelspruit community Forum to restore a care-centre house for orphans, provide school uniforms and clothing for a House for homeless children, and upgrade a playground at a disability centre in Hazyview.

On the 17th, the bikers will visit an orphanage in Graskop, where the group will create a vegetable garden from scratch.

The final, 18 July stop on the Bikers for Mandela Day will be a children’s home in Belfast, where a much needed upgrade of the bedrooms and bathrooms for the children will be undertaken prior to the final stretch to Pretoria.

“The activities which will be undertaken by the bikers, provide a good sample of what people can possibly do in their own communities in order to better the lives of others,” said Sello Hatang of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

“We hope people along the route and those following the ride will take inspiration from this example and live the Mandela Day ethos before and beyond the 18th and thereby help Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”

SAinfo reporter and Nelson Mandela Day