Cape Town – Cape Town grannies are doing their bit for Mandela Day, proving that no matter your age you can still make a difference.
In the run-up to Mandela Day, a group of senior citizens gathered at a centre in New Crossroads, Cape Town, to take part in a bead-a-thon.
The event organised by non-profit organisation Relate, aimed to show that just like former president Nelson Mandela, senior citizens can still have a great impact on society.
Relate empowers senior citizens at Ikamva Labantu seniors’ clubs around the city by paying them to string colourful beads, which are turned into bracelets and sold to support more than 50 charities encompassing education, senior citizens, environmental causes and health care.
Collectively the grannies have strung more than 50 million beads to make over million bracelets over the past four years, the sale of which has raised in excess of R17m for charity.
Relate say that through this initiative, they give the makers of the bracelets a chance to earn an income, develop skills to create self-sufficiency, have access to enterprise development funding and to restore dignity and hope.
Co-founder Lauran Gills explained how the process of creating the bracelets was not only empowering for the elderly but also for the youth.
The beaders are a group of seniors from the community, who most support entire families, including HIV/Aids-orphaned grandchildren, and the “finishers” are young adults who simply need an opportunity.
"When you get your bracelet, you can know that it has been touched by the hands of both young and old," Gills said.
The bead-a-thon was given a special twist by visiting Western Province rugby players Nic Groom, Juan de Jongh, Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt Coleman, who went head-to-head with the group of quick-fingered gogos to see which team could string the most beads in 33 minutes.
While the sportsmen did surprisingly well, with centre De Jongh threading the longest string of beads from his team at 1.7m, they were no match for the grannies.
The winning gogo, Nozolile Mjodo, more than doubled his effort with just over 4m in a mere 33 minutes.
To end the day, the seniors were delighted when the Relate donated a new stove to their centre.
This article was first published on News24 on 17 July 2014, to see the original artcile click here