Tshwane Rapid Transit PTY LTD (TRT) commemorated Nelson Mandela Day, taking place annually on 18 July, by visiting residents of a Pretoria old age home on 17 July 2015. Their destination was Othandweni Home, in Kwaggasrand in Pretoria West, housing both male and female residents.
Every year on 18 July — the day former president Nelson Mandela was born — people all over the world join in to help others. By devoting 67 minutes of their time to the Othandweni Home, TRT honoured the 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted to working for human rights and social injustice.
The TRT delegation arrived at the home bearing gifts – groceries and a brand new fridge. They also spent time with the residents by entertaining them with song and traditional dance. The joyous celebration was enriched by the residents of the home, who shared their own interesting and heart-warming life stories. TRT also treated the residents to a scrumptious lunch.
TRT CEO Ms Bukeka Mahlutshana said one of TRT’s aims was to make a positive contribution to the social and economic security of fellow Africans.
“As a young company operating within a community, for the community, we are driven and inspired by the values that drove Madiba throughout his life – values of fairness and justice, service, dignity, respect, and humility. I encourage each one of us to follow in his footsteps, to put people first, and to embrace these values in our daily lives,” she said.
Where it all started
Othandweni Home was founded by Mrs Gladys Mnguni and opened in November 2012. Mnguni says the home was created to provide care for the old and the destitute because she had too often read distressing stories in newspapers about the fate of many elderly people. The stories ranged from old people being attacked in their own homes or raped, to some of them spending their pension recklessly and as a result often suffering hunger. The home accommodates ten people, who are looked after by two care workers and a general helper, including assistance with bathing and feeding.
“I have a passion for old people and believe they need to be taken care of. They deserve respect, care and love, especially in their old age. After reading these stories I decided to do something to make a difference in the lives of some of them – that’s why we are still here, no matter how challenging it can be at times,” Mnguni said.
Mnguni founded Othandweni Home to offer elderly citizens a safe and caring place, where they can live peacefully and be taken care of. “In some cases old people who are sick are left alone all day while their family is at work. But at an old age home they are not alone and someone is there to help them take their medicine at the right time.”
TRT Operations Manager Mr Fanie van der Walt said the company was very happy to spend Nelson Mandela Day at the old age home. “Though we are celebrating Nelson Mandela Day, we are not only thanking him, but also thanking Othandweni residents for the role they played in making South Africa what it is today. We brought a small gift to say thank you and to remind them that they are still valuable members of our society.”
TRT Deputy Chairman Mr Piet Mahlangu also thanked the residents for the role they played in making South African what it is. “I am very grateful that TRT chose to spend time with some of the senior citizens of Tshwane. They have played their different roles and they deserve to be spoilt and not to be forgotten,” Mahlangu said. He added that TRT was there to remind them that they were still loved and valued.
Making a difference
Ms Mahlutshana said making a difference in the lives of others was one of her priorities – since the significance of the lives we ourselves lead is determined by the positive difference we make in the lives of others.
“Our contribution to Othandweni Home is based on the fact that, as a bus transport company, we serve a community with widely different needs. I was particularly touched by the dedication and sacrifice shown by the staff of Othandweni Home in the work they do to care for and love our elderly people. Seeing their faces lighten up by our presence made me realise that we need to do more and give our all every day – not only during Mandela month,” she said.
Mrs Mnguni was overwhelmed by emotion as a result of the TRT visit. “I am speechless. You can see how excited the residents are to have visitors. Some of them are crying tears of joy. They are very happy. Thank you for everything, you have no idea how much you have blessed us,” she said.
She especially thanked TRT for their attention, since very few people considered doing charity at places such as old age homes. “Today you have filled a vacuum in all our hearts. I wish that TRT’s sense of Ubuntu reaches other places as well. May other people see the goodness of your company,” she concluded.
TRT went home feeling grateful about the joyous encounter with all at Othandweni Home. And with memories to savour for months to come from all the rich and interesting stories they were told by the elderly Othandweni Home residents.