While many celebrities and other public figures were trying to convince us that they do good when they only did it for just an hour and seven minutes on 18 July every year, there is an organisation that does this every single day without even boasting about it. Johannesburg’s Refugee Aid Organisation also did its bit for Mandela day on the former statesman’s birthday and didn’t even shout about it.
RAO employess took 19 refugee children from the Troyeville Junior Primary School in Johannesburg to the Apartheid Museum so they could learn about the history of South Africa, the challenges South Africans came across and the sacrifices made to achieve freedom.
The children were also shown video clips of Madiba as he delivered some of his speeches, gave exclusive interviews and the underground place where he used to hide from the police.
The pupils were accompanied by their grade 5 teacher Zimbabwe-born Mr. Moyo who said he was touched by the things he saw at the museum. “I am really thankful for what Mr. Nelson Mandela and his counterparts did to make sure that South Africans are free. If it wasn’t for him and the sacrifices he made I believe this country would have turned out to be something bad and I also don’t believe I would have been welcomed as a teacher in this country,” he said.
The kids were very excited about the trip. “It really hurts, seeing what South Africans went through just to get their freedom. Today South Africa is a beautiful country, people share with each other, whites now live with black people and everyone is happy and we also interact with white kids in our school,” said a grade 5 pupil, Patricia Kungwara.
It was a great day for the kids, and the staff from the Refugee Aid Organisation. “I really enjoyed myself and I had fun with kids, but most of all I got to learn about my country and its political struggles. We’ve always heard people talking about how blacks were moved out of the cities, having seen the pictures and short documentaries I now have a clear understanding and now I know that it was not easy but it was worth it,” said RAO employee, Rieta Mhlanga.
People like Mhlanga are the true heroes of Mandela Day as they look after others and educate children without making a fuss and shouting to the world about it.