Lesedi la Batho was very fortunate to celebrate Mandela Day 2020 (Saturday 18 July) in Mabopane this year, amidst the chaos and perpetual need. As a non-profit organisation, we strive to empower vulnerable women who have survived rape, abuse and trauma to rediscover their self-worth and become more independent. We offer free skills training and job placement assistance, support groups and counselling, referrals to supporting institutions and emergency relief such as food parcels and clothing donations.
During South Africa's strict lockdown, many already poverty-stricken families who are now unable to work at all have been launched into even more dire circumstances. Families are in close confines, with added stress, experiencing alcohol and cigarette bans, and emergency services are totally over-capacitated - the perfect storm for what our President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa has called "a second pandemic"; one of dramatically increased gender-based violence cases during lockdown. Women in vulnerable situations need us now more than ever!
Tata Madiba dedicated 67 years of his life to the fight for a better, more equal South Africa - so this Mandela Day, we had a dream to provide 67 women with Care Packs, offering comfort and a reminder they are not alone. Thanks to the support of new and long-standing partners, we were able to serve 78 women!
Our team hosted a special event on Saturday at our community centre in Mabopane, or rather - three events, staggering the attendees in smaller groups of 20-30 people to ensure social distancing at all times. Attendees included teen moms, survivors of gender-based violence and commercial sex workers. The ladies were welcomed with a cup of hot soup in the morning (South Africa's winter is a nasty one this year!), then enjoyed an information and motivation session with guest speakers from the Victim Empowerment Program (VEP) and contributing foundations. A special thanks to Magdeline Mosime from the Makhwiti Foundation and Neo Yolaine Pearce from the NYP Foundation, who not only shared the day with us but contributed towards the Comfort Packs and provided refreshments!
Each woman received a Comfort Pack, including a beautiful handmade shweshwe bag, L'Oreal cosmetics, hygiene products, pads and a face mask.
A special thanks to L'Oreal for donating nail polish and lip glosses to our special women (what a treat!) and Juanette Johnson from the CSIR for donating an overflow of conference bags she ordered from our fair-trade project, Kago-Entle in 2018!
We also handed out material donations - each lady could choose clothes for them and their children.