At the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), groups including Women in Action (WiA) and Godllywood serve others every day as a way of life, but they join the global initiative on Mandela Day, organising events and visiting organisations to bring a little happiness and hope.
In preparation for Mandela Day, Women in Action handmade thousands of warm blankets which were distributed nationally to those in need of some warmth and cosy comfort. These are some of the initiatives held on Mandela Day 2016:
• In Johannesburg Women in Action visited the Soweto Home for the Aged spending time with the people and donating a handmade blanket to everyone. A second group visited the Ezibeleni Special School donating a blanket to each of the 70 children. Women in Action spend time with these children with special needs every month.
• In Pretoria Women in Action team visited the Tshwane Home of Hope where they have been involved since 2015. This is home to 13 girls cared for by manager Pretty Arojojoye. They donated a handmade WiA blanket for each child.
• A second team in Pretoria returned to the Victory Care Centre where they have been offering assistance since earlier this year. This centre is home to 18 children and adults. Manager Rose Maake reported that since Women in Action have been visiting, many doors have been opened for the centre. They recently received a substantial donation from Volvo which she believes is an answer to the team’s prayers and she is very grateful for the difference they are making.
• In Rustenburg, members of the Soul Winners group, the Youth Power Group, Godllywood, Women in Action, assistants and members of the Universal Church, went to the informal settlement of Skierlek where around 400 people arrived to share the celebration of Madiba’s life. The volunteers spent time with those who live there, prayed for them and served soup and bread. The team had prepared over 350 loaves of bread and many litres of nourishing soup. The Sunday school group donated party packs and did face painting for the children while the Youth Power Group entertained the crowd and challenged the young people to dance. Many of those who attended were sick, unemployed and seeking spiritual help. In a second outreach initiative, the Rustenburg group will visit the Rakatane Place of Safety in Tlhabane to distribute blankets made by Women in Action.
• Women in Action in Witbank visited the Mthimkulu Old Age Home where 93 people live. They spent time with them, sang and danced, served refreshments and gave each person a warm winter blanket. The old people were very happy and some even danced with the visitors to show their appreciation. Manager Mrs Mmeni said they had never had something like this before and she was very happy that Women in Action had visited them.
• A team from Mafikeng visited the Legae Motheo Shelter Welfare Centre which is home to around 20 children. Women in Action donated blankets and school socks for the children.
• Godllywood in Bloemfontein visited the Heaven Old Age Home in Kato where 40 elderly people live. They visit this home every month spending time with the people, having fun together, doing activities and taking donations. On Mandela Day each person was given a beautiful blanket. The Bloemfontein group was joined by volunteers from Lesotho who visit cancer patients at the National Hospital’s oncology wards twice a month, offering counselling to patients and their families. On Mandela Day the team donated 67 handmade blankets to patients who have been admitted and those receiving treatment as out patients. The warm blankets were so appreciated as many of the patients travel long distances, leaving home early in the freezing winter mornings. They were so grateful for the blankets.
• In Durban the WIA team went to the St Thomas Orphanage and gave the children WiA blankets and fruit. They spent a lovely afternoon playing games with the children.
• Godllywood in Port Elizabeth visited the Ekuphumleni Old Age Home in Njoli. They decorated the room with colourful balloons and South African flags and served a meal to the men and women who live there. Many of the elderly people do not have family members around and do not receive visitors, so the time spent with the volunteers brought joy and love to warm their hearts. Pastors’ wives entertained the group by singing traditional Xhosa songs and dancing. Before they left, they gave each person a beautiful mug.
• Women in Action from East London visited the Ethembeni Old Age home in Mdantsana giving those who live there warm winter hats and socks. The elderly were grateful for the company and the gifts, saying that although their lives may be short, a little happiness brightens their day.
• In Cape Town Women in Action spent the day with children at CHOC. The theme was a healthy meal and children were involved in games choosing healthy food.
These are some of the activities planned to celebrate Mandela Day, but at the UCKG, where volunteerism is a way of life, every day is Mandela Day as groups serve the communities in which they live.