To celebrate and honour Mandela Day, the UP Department of Library Services (DLS) had a two-day commemoration on 18 and 19 July. On 18 July, the DLS visited Tshwaraganang Children's Home and Tender Loving Care Old Age Home, both situated in Hammanskraal. The Children’s Home accommodates children from disadvantaged families; some have been abused, neglected, raped, and have endured various traumas. The DLS donated clothes, shoes, blankets, toiletries, stationery, and non-perishable food for the children. The team had joyous interactions with the children and taught them about the importance of having a library in their community. The children were also encouraged to focus on their studies for them to become successful and the visit ended with a lot of singing and dancing with the kids.
The team also visited Tender Loving Care Old Age Home to deliver clothes, blankets, and sweets for the elderly. The DLS team had fun interactions with the elderly, amongst them was the eldest resident at the home who is 92 years old. It was a lovely surprise to see most of the residents wearing winter beanies that the DLS previously donated. There was lots of singing and laughter as lunch was served with special sweets from the team as a treat. A few residents were given a chance to address the team, thanking the University of Pretoria for its efforts to ensure the senior citizens are not neglected and are taken care of.
On 19 July, the team visited Reliable House in Pretoria to deliver the “soup-in-a-jar” project which aims to support the vulnerable and needy in society by donating glass jars with soup powder, macaroni, and lentils or beans in layers that can feed up to 5 people. Reliable House is a haven for homeless men who want to escape the vicious effects of substance abuse. The land was previously neglected and used as a hideaway for the dealing of drugs and prostitution. The place was notoriously known as a crime hotspot which proved problematic to the community. The idea to transform the place came in 2016, which gave birth to the new establishment.
The team delivered over 150 bottles that were collected through contributions made by library staff members from all branches. About 20 men were present during the visit and the manager expressed sincere gratitude for this gesture, emphasising that the biggest problem in our society is men who are on the streets due to most of them not having families and growing up without fathers. Tebogo Sithole, a DLS staff member and author of a self-help book titled “Unfathered Father”, addressed the men and shared some encouragement with them. He also promised to make a follow-up visit and donate his book to the home.
The site also has a clinic, library, and training centre. The library staff members and interns showed great interest in helping the home with their small library and pursuing donations to assist them.
The team’s last stop was to visit Reliable Garden owned by the home, which is a vegetable garden just across the street. It was amazing to see such a huge, therapeutic garden space situated between flats in a city. Rehabilitated men are employed in the garden as a coping mechanism in their journey to being integrated back into the community. The garden space consists of organic vegetables, beehives, and animals.
The team was humbled by the gratitude from all the beneficiaries and is inspired to continue investing in impactful community initiatives.
A fun dancing session with the children at Tshwaraganang
DLS team with soup bottles at Reliable House