Cheesekids ready for Mandela Day

Cheesekids is driven by volunteerism,
said Luvuyo Mandela.

Shaka Sisulu is one of Cheesekids’ chief
organisers for Mandela Day activities.
(Images: Bongani Nkosi)

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Bongani Nkosi

Youth NGO Cheesekids for Humanity is set to be a leading force in encouraging young South Africans to spring into action for their 67 minutes of goodwill work on the upcoming Nelson Mandela International Day.

The organisation will facilitate volunteer work in the major cities of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. It’s targeting 6 700 youngsters to take part in its identified charity projects.

Buses organised by Cheesekids will shuttle volunteers throughout the day to surrounding areas. Cheesekids revealed its plans at a press briefing held in Johannesburg on 30 June 2011.

The activities it organised on Mandela Day last year attracted over 2 000 volunteers.

The event is celebrated each year on Nelson Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, to honour him and his humanitarian work over the years. South Africa’s first democratically elected president turns 93 this year.

All activities facilitated by Cheesekids will be held on 17 July, as the 18th is a Monday and not a public holiday in South Africa.

Cheesekids volunteers will be spread throughout “all the townships that you can think of in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town”, said Shaka Sisulu, the NGO’s founding member.

Activities such as developing vegetable gardens in schools, running sport clinics for children, painting day-care centres and cleaning habitat sites are lined up.

Sisulu, grandson to struggle veterans Walter and Albertina Sisulu, said they’ve earmarked up to 36 existing charity schemes as beneficiaries. “We’ll have cleaning projects, we’ll go to orphanages and old age homes …” he said.

Those interested in volunteering are urged to register on Cheesekids’ website.

Frank Meintjies, who coordinates Mandela Day activities at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said Innes Free Park in Sandton will be the central point of volunteer collection in Johannesburg.

“Innes Free is where they’ll gather. From there, they’ll have buses going to the sites,” Meintjies said. “You work your 67 minutes and come back, you may decide if you want to go again.”

Financial group Old Mutual is bankrolling Cheesekids’ goodwill venture. “It’s an opportunity for us to continue the work that we do in communities and help those who are vulnerable,” said the company’s marketing executive, Thembeka Ngugi.

“Mandela Day is about building a great legacy for our country,” she said, urging youngsters to participate. “Let’s go out there and do great things. You have 67 minutes and you can do a lot.”

Cheesekids for change

Cheesekids was founded in 2007 by a group of youngsters. It now has about 4 000 members who lead its charity work.

The organisation said it’s driven by the spirit of volunteerism for the betterment of communities. “Cheesekids is young people who’ve taken it upon themselves to do something,” said Luvuyo Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s great-grandson and member.

Celebrity to encourage youngsters

Renowned music mogul and radio personality Sibusiso Leope, known as DJ S’bu, has promised to do his bit on Mandela Day in conjunction with Cheesekids.

His said he will focus on motivating young township residents to achieve their dreams. DJ S’bu grew up in Tembisa, a township east of Johannesburg

“It’s important to encourage other youngsters out there that they can make it. I made it,” Leope said.

“The main cause is not necessarily for Madiba, but for young people out there,” he added.

A number of other organisations in the country will also lead their charity initiatives on Mandela Day.

“… Mandela Day is not an organisation, it’s a movement. It involves a lot of people moving it forward,” said Luvuyo Mandela.