“As long as outmoded ways of thinking prevent women from making a meaningful contribution to society, progress will be slow. As long as the nation refuses to acknowledge the equal role of more than half of itself, it is doomed to failure.” Nelson Mandela Women’s Day 1996.
Nelson Mandela believed in women and in the crucial role that they play in creating change and developing communities. The Miss Earth South Africa programme strives to continue on the same path with an ethos of empowerment, growth and encouraging young women from all corners of South Africa through environmental education, sustainable lifestyles and harnessing a passion for this country’s future.
“It starts by turning the talk into action. Young women are the movers and shakers of our community and the mothers of our future leaders, it is our responsibility to nurture them,” said the Executive Director of the Miss Earth Africa leadership programme Catherine Constantinides, who is also an Archbishop Tutu Oxford Africa Fellow 2014.
With 25 passionate young ladies from around South Africa this Mandela day shows that his legacy is still strong in the hearts of many. Working in Orange Farm at this four year old school Solwazi Primary means standing united against poverty and the lack of food and employment. Constantinides initiated this year’s Mandela Day project with one goal in mind; Make Food Security Possible. Joining hands to plant a food garden and paint classrooms is the theme and objective for theses green and glamorous hearts.
The vegetable garden was set up using old tyres donated by Imperial Toyota, Lombard tyres and Redisa. Redisa have to date removed 26 388 tonnes of waste tyres from landfill and burning saying; “We’re all happy to use tyres, but don’t give any thought to what happens to them when they reach the end of their useful life.” Well, the Miss Earth South Africa team and the Mandela Day volunteers have found a use for these tyres with contributions from the Fourways Farmers Market, GroMor and Earth Outdoor Living Nursery the vegetables will be used in the school’s feeding scheme.
Classrooms were also upgraded and painted to create a conducive, learning environment for the children of Solwazi Primary where non-toxic, non-flammable paint was sponsored by Green Coat Eco Paint. Projects and days like this are not complete without a delicious meal prepared by the team from Meals on Wheels where donations were made to ensure a warm meal for the community members. Food hampers and fruit packs were collected by each Miss Earth South Africa National Finalist of this year’s program.
“Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression” Nelson Mandela, Parliament 1994. To release a woman, a child and even a man from certain oppressions we need to be able to work as a whole. We need to respect, love and communicate effectively for a lasting legacy to be felt. It is through these words that we remember this great man and we reflect on the role women need to play in communities.
“This year marks the first Mandela Day Celebrations to be held without the father of our Nation; Tata Madiba but this will not hold us back but rather inspire us and make us fight harder for the South Africa he dreamt of.”