To Gauteng entrepreneur Zanele Mvelase, time is precious – something to be devoted to business interests.
But yesterday saw Mvelase, owner of two McDonald outlets in the North West, descend on the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) wing of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Parktown, accompanied by 12 volunteers to cook and serve a sumptuous meal for families of children admitted for serious illnesses – all in honour of Nelson Mandela.
The RMH – a non-profit organisation which is part of a global network operating in 62 countries – provides a home-away-from-home to families of children in hospital.
“I am selfish with time because of the demands of business,” said Mvelase. “I spend considerable time in meetings, without much time to cook.
“But for Mandela, I had to give my time as a volunteer to make other people feel good.
“It has been a great and humbling experience spending the whole day in the kitchen.”
For Everton township’s Vuyiswa Jongi and Aphonisha Jordaan of Mpumalanga, whose two babies have been admitted for heart operations, a full meal of basmati rice, crème chicken, salads, pasta and spinach has been an unforgettable experience.
“This would definitely not have been possible if it was not for Madiba,” Aphonisha says. “At first it felt weird that people can prepare such quality food and serve me. I am used to serving people. I am thankful to Zanele, the hospital and the team of volunteers.
“This has taught me to do the same in Mpumalanga – even if it means praying for those who are poor and suffering.”
For Jongi, the humanitarian gesture by Mvelase has also meant “being able to reciprocate by taking care of others in need”.
Meanwhile, a stone’s throw away from Parktown, City of Jozi family support social development co-ordinator Kebonye Senna, Cibelle Johnie of Radisson Blu Gautrain hotel and non-profit organisation Meals on Wheels, had their hands full – despite having mobilised an army of more than 30 volunteers to feed the needy at Hillbrow’s Governor’s House, a shelter for displaced people.
With hot meals being served and also being offered soaps, fruit, linen, dental and sandwich packs, you could have sworn it was an early Christmas for the needy who came from Hillbrow and surrounding areas of Johannesburg.
“Added to the work we are doing here today, we are to proceed to the SOS Children’s Village in Ennerdale,” said Johnie. “Radisson hotels have entered into partnership with SOS to adopt a child to be looked after in terms of meals and education.”
Built in 1906, Governor’s House – once a home to the governor of the old Number Four prison situated next to the landmark Constitution Hill – daily renders services, which include drug rehabilitation, skills development and meals to the homeless.