Secretary Clinton Statement on Nelson Mandela International DayAbout the Author: Tau Shanklin Roberts serves in the Public Affairs Section of U.S. Embassy Pretoria.
There is much responsibility that comes with being the face of the United States government in a foreign country. We, the embassy community, must uphold and explain the policies of the United States to our counterparts in whatever country we're in; we must also continue to represent the common thoughts, beliefs, and practices that demonstrate what it means to be an American. When I reflect on what it means to be an American, I recall Martin Luther King, Jr.'s statement, “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'”
So, it goes without saying that the embassy community would participate in one of South Africa's newest, but most cherised holidays, Mandela International Day.
Mandela Day recognizes and honors the extraordinary contribution to world peace made by former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa. President Mandela is an example to every leader and every nation for his ability to take South Africa out of apartheid and to create a multi-racial democracy without bloodshed. For this, he and former South African State President F.W. de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
We recognize this event not only to commemorate the illustrious public service career of a great man, Nelson Mandela (or "Madiba" as we call him here in South Africa), but also to support those who need our help the most. This year the embassy community's contributions for Mandela Day consist of two efforts. The first is an embassy-wide donation drive to benefit Two Sisters, an established care center for children orphaned through the AIDS pandemic.
The second endeavor consists of embassy staff and their families volunteering their time to work with local children on Sunday, July 18 (Mandela Day) and on Monday, July 19. For Sunday's event, volunteers will participate in one of the several volunteer projects organized through Cheesekids for Humanity, an organization run by Shaka Sisulu [grandson of Walter Sisulu, a much-admired anti-apartheid activist and member of the African National Congress (ANC)]. On Monday, 28 embassy employees will give their time at three U.S. government supported organizations: Moepathutse Children's Center, Child Welfare Tshwane, and the Mae Jemison U.S. Science Reading Room.
More information on the groups we have partnered with:Cheesekids for Humanity ("Cheesekids") is a youth-oriented community service platform, encouraging young South Africans of privilege to individually contribute regularly to the upliftment and empowerment of our more marginalised communities. Its
Child Welfare Tshwane is supported by funding from the U.S. Government. The organization is ninety-two years old and has seven community-based service sites (Atteridgeville, Mamelodi, Eersterust, Olievenhoutbosch, Centurion, Elandspoort, Pretoria Central). Beneficiaries of services are mainly orphaned and vulnerable children and families in need of social, emotional and financial support.
Moepathutse Children's Center was established in 2006 to assist orphaned and abandoned children. The center provides shelter, a nutritional diet, psychosocial care, healthcare and access to education. The center recives funds from our Community Grants program.
The Mae Jemison U.S. Science Reading Room is a U.S.-focused science library and program venue specializing in outreach to secondary school students in Mamelodi. Situated on the Mamelodi campus of the University of Pretoria, Jemison is a partnership between the U.S. Embassy Pretoria Office of Public Diplomacy and the University of Pretoria. It aims to improve science and math education results for students in the local community, as well as teaching computer literacy, English skills and interest in the United States.
Two Sisters is an established care center for children orphaned through the AIDS pandemic. When a parent passes away, the organization works with the local traditional affairs office and the municipality to transfer the property into the names of the children. At the same time, Two Sisters identifies a suitable foster parent, preferably a family member to care for the children. Two Sisters provides the main meal of the day as well as all medical care, school uniforms and fees and sees to it that the children are well cared for in the foster homes.