Exchange team participates in Mandela Day
Continents away where two oceans meet, nine Canadian and nine South African women have come together for a women’s exchange program. Youth Leaders in Action is a program designed to educate youth through an intercultural experience where they spend three months in Canada and three months in a host country.
This initiative is co-ordinated between Canada World Youth and the Volunteer Centre in South Africa, both of which are non-profit organizations. The women’s program is significant as it focuses on gender and health issues, dealing specifically with HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and substance abuse.
Each Canadian is paired with a South African counterpart and will reside with a host family, spending 10 weeks working in Khayelitsha and the remaining 10 weeks on the Sunshine Coast. Both communities have been hosting for several years.
Khayelitsha is a black township in Cape Town that was created after the apartheid regime. It has a population of 1.2 million people and is one of the largest townships in the country.
Each year South Africans celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18, Mandela Day as it is known to the locals. The essential concept is for each individual to volunteer 67 minutes of their time to give back to the community through volunteer work.
The CWY team participated by spending several hours cleaning up Fikelela Children’s Home, a centre for orphaned children from birth to age eight who have been abused or neglected and/or suffer from HIV/AIDS. The exchange students painted walls, disinfected toys, sorted and packed clothing, cleaned the floors, walls and furniture and organized a variety of content.
They delivered care packages to the children consisting of juice, sweets, fruits and snacks. Their gratitude of smiles, high-fives and cheering as the students bid farewell was the blissful reward of experiencing what the spirit, purpose and meaning of Mandela Day truly ought to be.