The University of Johannesburg (UJ) enthusiastically pledged time for community outreach initiatives, commemorating Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Mandela Day encourages people to dedicate 67 minutes of their time to participate in charitable work which will make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
More than 90 UJ staff and students committed their time and excitedly rallied together into teams at various sites around Johannesburg; Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Funda UJabule School, and a farming project “Izindaba Zokudla” (commonly translated as “food matters”) in Mofolo, Soweto.
UJ staff and students got into the swing of things by assisting with laundry, administration, painting, and kitchen duties, helping at the pharmacy dispensary and undertaking general maintenance work in and around the Helen Joseph, the Chris Hani Baragwanath, and the Charlotte Maxeke Academic hospitals.
Other volunteers at Funda UJabule School made quick work of cleaning and organizing book shelves at the school library. It was heartwarming to see the team reading and telling stories, and playing games with the young children at the school where they encouraged learners to read and to learn about our country’s democracy. “Let’s ensure that we have a generation that reads, because reading is power and we need to inculcate a culture of reading in our learners – we will have a knowledgeable community”, says Ms Rebecca Maboya, Funda UJabule Principal.
Comments from Small Farm workers in Soweto:
UJ Champion in sustainable development, Dr Naude Malan who is leading “Izindaba zokudla which is a multi-stakeholder engagement project from the University of Johannesburg. The Programme organises small farmers and links them to developers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other departments at the University for Service Learning Projects. “We do the hard-work in integrating small farmers into the mainstream food system. We aim to enable them to change the normal food system to a sustainable food system that delivers fresh and healthy, good and clean food to people where food is needed,” says Dr Malan, Lecturer: Development Studies, UJ.
Mr Gerrit Wasserman, an ex-farmer from New Farmers Mentoring, shared some vital skills by teaching the community and workers at Sizani Farmers in Soweto about how to plant, look after and prepare crops and the soil before, during and after cultivations. He helps emerging farmers on basic farming techniques and gives advice on new technologies available, and assists them in joining or establishing new markets.
Mr Jacob Ndlovu a farmer was very pleased to show off his crops which include spinach, cabbages, beetroot and maize. He mentioned that they came together as a community to clear out some land to start farming. He indicated that the site was a dumping site but today it is clear and produces food.
Ms Martha Mongoya was very excited to get this much needed information and was happy to learn various farming techniques and form networks with other small local farmers, so that she could learn from their solutions and be able to deal with different challenges she faces in farming.
Ms Moipone Qhomane-Goliath, Soweto
campus librarian encouraging reading to grade 3
learners at Funda Ujabule Primary School.