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Published on 22nd July 2010
VSA helped the South African High Commission celebrate Mandela Day with students at South Wellington Intermediate School this week.
Staff from VSA and the High Commission joined All White James Bannatyne – who recently returned from the World Cup in South Africa – for a friendly game of football and an art activity with students at the school on Tuesday July 20.
Before the game, the High Commissioner Anthony Mongalo talked to the students about the ties that exist between South Africa and New Zealand, and the work that VSA does in South Africa.
“VSA is an organisation that needs as much support as possible because of the work it does sending volunteers to assist poor people all over the world,” he told them. “I trust you will take the message of International Mandela Day and support the call for volunteers to make better lives for people all around the world.”
Former VSA volunteer Judy Moore talked to the students about her assignment setting up a preschool and helping to run an afterschool activity programme in the South African township of Mdantsane.
James Bannatyne got the biggest cheer of the day by encouraging the students to remember how they felt when Winston Reid scored a goal in the 93rd minute of the All White’s first game in the World Cup, evening the score against Slovakia.
The first Mandela Day was held in July last year, and it was endorsed by the United Nations in November 2009. Participants spend 67 minutes doing volunteer work in their local community to mark the 67 years Nelson Mandela dedicated to the struggle for humanity.
The official date for Mandela Day is July 18 – Nelson Mandela’s birthday – but the South Africa High Commission in Wellington celebrated the day a little late to fit in with the start of the new school term.
South Wellington Intermediate School was chosen for the event because it is one of more than 200 schools and Girl Guide units taking part in VSA Project Friendship, being held from August 9 to 15. During the week, students will sell $3 colourful, handwoven friendship bracelets to help support the work that VSA volunteers do overseas.
This year Project Friendship is focusing on youth. Money from each sale will support VSA volunteers who are working with young people on issues such as children’s rights, HIV/AIDS and the environment.
VSA currently has 12 volunteers working in South Africa, most of them based in the Eastern Cape, the birthplace of Nelson Mandela.