Pretoria, South Africa, 19 July (UNHCR) – In 2008, with the help of UNHCR and the vision of Mama Fanie (as she is popularly known) a Congolese refugee, the Divine Grace crèche opened.
Initially the crèche exclusively provided affordable daycare to refugee parents and a place to work for refugees new in the country. It has since grown, and now cares for 170 national and foreign children aged from four months to six years. Most of the children come from disadvantaged families who cannot afford to pay the tuition fees.
The UNHCR team identified the desperate needs of Divine Grace Crèche in Pretoria and rallied together to support this establishment on Mandela Day. In the weeks leading up to Mandela Day, Cynthia Morgan, an intern at UNHCR, rallied other sister agencies who then donated blankets, milk, cleaning supplies and vegetables towards the initiative. She also facilitated financial contributions exceeding R12, 000.
Yesterday, a group of 70 enthusiastic staff from different United Nations Agencies in South Africa, led by UNHCR donated their 260 minutes to the Divine Grace Crèche and Pre-school in honour of Mandela Day. The aim of the UNHCR initiative was to fulfill the vision of International Mandela Day by providing a platform for all UN staff to engage with the community.
They spent the morning with the children treating them to a number of fun-filled activities, ranging from singing and dancing to games, face painting and arts and crafts as they celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday. Some of the highpoints of the morning were the creation of ‘Get Well Madiba’ cards and learning the ‘Madiba Jive’.
Before lunch all children gathered in the largest class room singing joyful songs. UN volunteers joined the children in singing ‘happy birthday Tata Madiba’ and dancing the ‘Madiba Jive’. After all the festivities were over, UNHCR’s Senior Regional Protection Officer, Mr. Arvind Gupta, facilitated the donation handover to the crèche which included 30 children’s mattresses, black-boards, stationery, toys, vegetables and fruits, cleaning supplies, more than 70 liters of milk and blankets. UNHCR also donated a brand new microwave oven to aid meal preparation. These donations will leave an imprint and effectively make a difference in the crèche.
A thank you card from Ms. Annie Mwimba, the acting Manager, and the entire Divine Grace Crèche/Pre-school was accepted by Mr. Arvind Gupta on behalf of UNHCR and its sister agencies during the donation handover ceremony.
During Mr. Gupta’s remarks he reiterated the commitment of UN staff to empowering the community through service and asked staff to continue this outside of Mandela Day. “We have gone beyond the 67 minutes, let us take it forward and continue doing good.”