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67 minutes for the children: South African high commissioner urges Jamaicans to empower children for Mandela Day

Published:Thursday | July 18, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

Mathu Joyini, the South African high commissioner to Jamaica, has implored the nation to follow the example set by Nelson Mandela and join in on the global call for humanitarian action today by spending 67 minutes of their time serving others.

Today marks the second year that Jamaica will officially celebrate Nelson Mandela Day under the theme 'Take Action, Inspire Change', and Joyini has noted that the emphasis this time around will be placed on rural children and wards in state care.

"We have set out to focus on rural children and those in state care, as a lot of the companies and organisations that take part in Mandela Day are based in Kingston and often find it difficult to reach out to these rural communities," Joyini told The Gleaner.

"We want to extend the focus and reach out to our children as they are our main priority. Last year, we focused on children broadly around Kingston, but now we want to make a difference in the lives of the rural children," she added.

Joyini said she had a heart-warming experience on Tuesday when she and others went to Cocoon Castle in Hanover with representatives of the United Nations Children's Fund.

"It was very fulfilling as it was a deep rural community and I saw the difference that the visit made to the children. I hope we can do the same thing in many more communities across the island," she said.


Joyini urged everyone to take 67 minutes today to help uplift their communities, whether their efforts are towards children or the elderly.

"Sixty-seven minutes is accessible to most, if not all, of us. It doesn't have to be a big thing. It can be in your own home with your own children, with the members of your neighbourhood or surrounding communities. This day is about us giving back and empowering the children, which is what Nelson Mandela really believes in," she added.

Several organisations will take part in activities across the island. Among them are the Child Development Agency, which will have a movie day and treat for the wards of the Pringles Children Home in St Mary; Crayons Count, which will be working with the children at the Mustard Seed Communities; and the Jamaica National Foundation, which will be educating and treating 200 children from four inner-city communities in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland.