The Relate Trust and explorer extraordinaire, Kingsley Holgate, marked the start of what would have been Nelson Mandela’s centenary year in Nyanga today by rewarding the remarkable elderly men and women who are the workforce of the Relate Trust.

The seniors thread the Relate Trust’s thousands of beaded bracelets for worthwhile causes, which involves a great deal of close-up handwork.

Today Holgate’s team conducted eye tests and handed out free reading spectacles as part of their Rite to Sight initiative.


“These seniors do incredible work for us and for the many charities that these bracelets support. Many of them support their children and grandchildren with the money they earn from threading beads. This work supplements their pensions and enables them to further empower themselves and their communities.


“More than ever, we want them to know how special and important they are to us. Their generosity and hard work embody the spirit of Madiba who we are also paying tribute to today,” said Relate Trust CEO, Neil Robinson.

Relate is partnering with individuals and businesses to sell Mandela centenary bracelets in order to raise R100 million to help address unemployment and illiteracy.

Major partners already involved include Woolworths, Comair and South32, and others are encouraged to come on board to help make a difference.

The funds raised will go towards employing more people to make the bracelets as well as to the Nelson Mandela Library Project for the creation and implementation of container libraries in underprivileged schools. Each library typically services 1 000 children per year, with the library being active for at least 15 years (so, one library will influence 15 000 children on average). The libraries are also open to the surrounding communities and provide valuable resources for teachers.

Today’s handover also marked the start of Holgate’s next big adventure – a perilous trek to Kathmandu.

“This is the perfect place to start. These trips are all about improving and saving lives. Giving spectacles to elderly people whose livelihood requires keen eyesight is a fulfilment of that mission.

“The seniors’ work goes far beyond just a personal benefit. Through beading bracelets, they have helped fund hundreds of causes and impacted thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people ‒ not to mention the families and communities they support with their extra income. The work that they do with Relate shows the power of a successful social enterprise model,” said Holgate.


To support Relate’s Mandela Centenary Campaign, you can buy special centenary bracelets from Woolworths stores nationwide and select Protea Hotels, Made In SA, Out of Africa, and The Tiger’s Eye stores nationwide.