For UCKG volunteers, service is a way of life, making every day a Mandela Day
On 18 July 2017, which would have been Mandela's 99th birthday, the internationally acclaimed statesman was remembered for many of his fine qualities, but perhaps most mentioned in media reports was his humanity.
It was this concern for others, his desire to make the world a better place and his life of service that inspires volunteers to help change lives on Mandela Day.
Diverse groups within the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) are involved in ongoing social responsibility campaigns to assist, educate, uplift, empower and transform the lives of people in communities where the Church has been established, on a daily basis. On Mandela Day, they join thousands of others devoting time to serving others.
Many groups return to homes, hospitals or organisations they visit regularly and where they have developed positive relationships with those who live and work there. On Mandela Day they made a special effort to decorate venues and gifts with posters of Nelson Mandela and symbols of South African unity including the national flag. As groups went out to bless and uplift others, they all acknowledge that it is in giving that we receive. Their small acts of charity brought them enormous joy and a fresh appreciation for the many small things we take for granted. These include our health and homes, basic toiletries and staple food, companionship and friendship, and being special and important to someone. These things are priceless and to be treasured.
UCKG groups involved in regular volunteer social outreach initiatives include: Women in Action cancer supporters, Godllywood women and the Youth Power Group.
During the weekend before Mandela Day and on his birthday, volunteers from UCKG touched the lives of thousands of people, devoting 67 minutes or more to community social work at close to 50 different organisations countrywide. Initiatives were undertaken in all nine provinces throughout South Africa.
These are some of the initiatives undertaken this year:
· The Women in Action team of trained cancer supporters in Bloemfontein celebrated another Mandela Day at the National Hospital distributing food hampers to more than 60 patients who were undergoing treatment. Patients welcomed the cheerful cards which had uplifting messages of hope to encourage them. The Women in Action volunteers, known as the Pink Ladies in oncology wards nationally, had decorated the hall with the South African flag and posters of Madiba who stood as a beacon of courage, determination, unity and victory. This message reminded patients that though their journey was a difficult one, their determination and courage to face it spoke volumes and they too are as inspirational and determined as Mandela was to overcome challenges and embrace a better life.
· The Godllywood team from Bloemfontein gathered at the Boikhuco Old Age Home to pamper the seniors and staff. More than 70 seniors and 10 staff members received a well-deserved back, neck and hand massage. The treatment table had been beautifully prepared with coloured candles, soothing creams and essentials oils,and calming music was played to create a tranquil atmosphere. Their reaction was of great joy and gratitude as well as excitement and even tears. One of the seniors reported that she was feeling pain all over her body but after the massages, the pain disappeared. She was extremely grateful, thanking the team for their kindness and care. The staff were most appreciative of the regular visits that the team make to the home to help the residents know that they have not been forgotten.
· Members of the Youth Power Group (YPG) in Bloemfontein visited the Talitha Koum Children Centre in Heidedal which cares for 18 orphans. The young people donated toys, played games with the children and spent time showing an interest in their lives and giving them much appreciated attention.
· Women in Action’s trained cancer supporters in Cape Town offer regular support to patients receiving medical care. On Mandela Day they spent time at CHOC House and at Tygerberg Hospital where they served tea and muffins and offered encouragement and understanding to the families whose children are undergoing cancer treatment. They donated 40 pamper hampers containing body lotion, bath products, toothpaste and brushes, and personal hygiene products which were received with gratitude by the recipients.
· In Cape Town, Godllywood members visited the Durbanville Kinderhuise which has 43 children in its care. The women spent time playing with the children and serving a nourishing meal of homemade soup.
· Another Godllywood group spent time with the 92 residents at the Zonnebloem ACVV Dienstak Old Age Home in Cape Town. This is a home they visit every month, offering companionship to the elderly. On Mandela Day they served tea and cake and donated snacks. They also prepared a memory board with pictures of previous visits to give the residents something joyful to remember.
· In Durban, a Godllywood group visited the Mary Asher home which cares for 52 elderly people. The volunteers spent time with the residents, entertaining them with song and dance as well as chatting to and praying for the people.
· In Durban, members of the Youth Power Group visited the Thembela Home for the elderly. They entertained the 41 residents and served muffins and tea before distributing books which were received with gratitude.
· A second group from the Durban Youth Power Group visited the ABH Centre in Chatsworth which cares for orphaned children. They played games with the children who won prizes for their talent. Copies of the book Nothing to Lose 3 were donated to the staff.
· In East London, Godllywood women visited the Ethembeni Old Age Home once again, something they do regularly, showing an interest in the elderly people. This visit they prepared breakfast for the 31 people who live there and gave each person a warm winter scarf.
· Women in Action’s trained cancer supporters spent time at the Frere Hospital in East London teaching patients in oncology wards handcrafts including beading, making flowers, jewellery and doing puzzles. These activities help them to relax. Patients enjoyed learning skills which they could do when they have been discharged from hospital.
· In George, the Youth Power Group visited Bethesda Hospice in Rosemoor where they helped with DIY projects including fixing curtains and serving meals, as well as spending time playing and singing with the children and giving copies of the book Nothing to Lose 3 to the adults and staff.
· In Johannesburg, Godllywood visited the Kensington Retirement Home for the first time as part of their programme of spreading love and touching the lives of others by offering friendship and spiritual support. Each month they visit people with the aim of improving one aspect of their lives and on Mandela Day they met new people, served them a special afternoon tea and entertained the residents with song and dance. The elderly people were grateful to have been remembered and treated so specially.
· In Johannesburg, Women in Action cancer supporters spent time with patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital and the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre. At Baragwanath Hospital, they served breakfast for the staff of the CHOC wards and gave gifts to children. At the Charotte Maxeke Hospial they visited children in the CHOC wards and adults in oncology wards. They played with the children before handing out 47 gift bags containing gloves and toys and 30 handcrafted bracelets for parents and staff. The team then went to the adult oncology ward where they interacted with staff and patients and gave gifts to 140 people which were received with gratitude. At the Donald Gordon Hospital the team visited the CHOC wards, entertaining the children with activities which included making replicas of the South African flag in memory of Nelson Mandela. They gave each child and each staff member a gift.
· In Soweto, members of the Youth Power Group went to the Boitumelo Community Creche in Bram Fischerville where they played with the 116 children and gave their parents and teachers copies of the inspirational book Nothing to Lose 3. Their visit touched the lives of the children, 21 parents and 7 teachers.
· In Khayelitsha, a Godllywood group visited the Basiphumelele Children Home where they donated blankets and snack packs to the 32 children who live there. This is a home they visit regularly, spending time with the children and showing them they are loved and valued.
· The Youth Power Group from Limpopo visited the Samaritan Orphanage where they devoted time to playing games, singing and dancing with the children before giving them a tea party. The visit was unexpected and seeing their happy faces was a priceless experience for the young people.
· In Mafikeng, Godllywood visited Mama Queen’s House which cares for abandoned children. Mama Queen is a pensioner who looks after orphans in her village – some of the 54 in her care, live in her home and she monitors others in the community. Some of these are child headed households with siblings as young as 12 years old caring for brothers and sisters, one who is just 6 months old. Godllywood women donated food and blankets to the children and spent time playing with them.
· In Port Elizabeth, volunteers returned to the Sinethemba Children’s Home in Korsten where children without parents or guardians live. The women donated toys and snacks to each one of the 30 children and spent time playing games with them.
· Godllywood groups in Phillipi spent time, once again, with the 125 elderly people who live at the Ikhaya Old Age Home in Gugulethu. The women donated winter gloves to the residents and staff which were put on immediately as the weather was icy. The elderly people expressed appreciation for the regular visits, saying it is good to know they are thought about.
· Women in Action cancer volunteers in Pretoria spent time at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital where they were welcomed by staff, parents and children undergoing treatment. They gave fruit to the children, encouraging them to make healthy food choices and distributed 40 packs of toys and snacks to the patients and their families.
· A Godllywood group from Pretoria visited the Kids Victory Care Centre in Mabopane. Each one of the women had purchased new winter clothes and shoes for one of the 7 adults and 10 children who live there. They served a light meal and cake to the children and elderly people which was greatly appreciated. Manager Rose Maake thanked the women for their generous gifts and for the time they spend every month with those who live at the home.
· Godllywood Rustenburg visit the Rakatane Place of Safety every month and in honour of Mandela Day they gave unexpected gifts to the 20 children, spending time playing games and enjoying a party with them.
· In a second project in the Rustenburg area, Godllywood Jouberton visited the We Can Home which cares for abused children, those without homes, blind children and those with physical disabilities. Some of the children were at school but the volunteers played with those who were at the home, introducing them to the creativity of art,drawing chalk pictures and colouring in happy memories. Art was displayed in innovative frames made from colourful ice cream sticks which the children loved and appreciated. Their creativity brightened up their rooms.
· In Tembisa, Godllywood was privileged to visit the Tumelo Home for the mentally handicapped again. This is home to 47 children some of whom are day visitors while others live there permanently. Godllywood visits this home every month and on Mandela Day prepared games for the children and entertained them with song and dance. They donated non-perishable food to help them during the month and warm winter polar fleece garments to keep the children warm.
· In Umtata, volunteers visited the Khanyisa Children’s Home where they spend time with the 29 children regularly. On Mandela Day they cleaned the orphanage and prepared breakfast for the children, spending time with them and encouraging them.
· In the Vaal area, Godllywood and Women in Action made a difference in the lives of those who live at the Lapeng Care Centre for the Aged, ensuring they felt special on Mandela Day and knew that they are valued.
· In Vaal, the Youth Power Group visited the Vaal Echoes of Love Old Age Home which cares for 87 frail and elderly people. The young people did gentle exercises with the residents and spent time listening to their life stories. The 25 staff members were most grateful for the injection of young energy into their lives.
· In Witbank, Godllywood women visited the Immergroen Old Age Home which is a home they visit regularly. On Mandela Day, they prepared a party for 20 elderly people who do not receive visitors and entertained them with song and dance.
Far from being once-off initiatives, these are examples of regular social work undertaken by volunteers from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in communities nationally.
For further information, please contact the church’s public relations department on 011 224 3400 or firstname.lastname@example.org