By Thapelo Matlala
Samela Tyelbooi and Muzi Mthabela from ‘Generations: The Legacy’ were a hit when they visited the Eluxolweni Child and Youth Centre in Makhanda on Mandela Day to commemorate and honour the living essence and virtue of the father of the nation – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Eluxolweni used the day to collect shoes and soccer boots for the young residents. “God helped us to be in a place where this event could be possible”, said Tyelbooi, adding that she wanted to pass on the love that Madiba had for children by giving the Eluxolweni children soccer kits to motivate them to pursue their dreams.
Mthabela told the young residents present that “regardless of what you have or don’t have, nobody can limit your ability. We grew up thinking we had to be teachers, nurses or doctors. But know that your options are limitless. Don’t ever allow your environment to limit your dreams. It takes the same amount of energy to dream small as it does to dream big”.
Also present at the event were officials from Correctional Services, the Department of Home Affairs, Joza Women’s Network, local schools, and the Department of Social Development. The event heard that Eluxolweni was established in 1992 for 40 boys and 35 girls, with the mission of creating a home for the homeless and securing the lives of children who needed love, support, and care. But after a sour incident where a 17-year-old boy impregnated a 13-year-old girl, the centre became a boys-only space, and currently houses 33 boys aged from eight to 17 years old.
The tightly knit community was harmonious on Mandela Day with the children receiving goodie bags, shoes, clothes, and stationery. Joy made the children ooze contagious smiles and enthusiasm. Captain Maart, a Joza Women’s Network leader said when she was approached to support the event, it was a no-brainer because most people are reluctant to help. Maart said she was grateful that people came and offered what they had.
Mr Hasha, who spoke on behalf of Correctional Services condemned the bad behavior of some South African youth, particularly those who are envious of other people’s success without knowing their struggle to achieve this. He encouraged the youth to be willing to work hard even if it meant taking the long route, saying they would end up in “jail” if they used dodgy ways that might incriminate them.
Christopher Morris, of the ‘Generations: The Legacy’ production team said they came to the event to pass on the legacy of the spirit of generosity, community, and Ubuntu and to create opportunities for artists like Samela Tyelbooi and Muzi Mthabela to remember where they came from and to plough back. Morris mentioned how important it was to be part of the event as it helped them remain humble.
Kingswood College art students came in numbers to paint vibrant artwork in the boys ‘ bedrooms. Zintle Xabise, social worker and organiser of the event, spoke of how she got rejected when she was knocking on doors to ask for help and donations for the event.
“The support I got today makes me so emotional. I wanted to take the opportunity by giving back to the kids”, said Xabise, adding that she hoped that Ubuntu would carry the support to Eluxolweni children beyond Mandela Day, so that they could finish school and graduate from Rhodes University as Eluxolweni children had already done over the years.