Millions of South Africans took part in charity initiatives across the country to mark Nelson Mandela International Day.

 A woman poses for a picture with tags featuring Mandela's portrait during a ceremony commemorating Nelson Mandela International Day, in front of the UN headquarters in New York
A woman poses for a picture with tags featuring Mandela’s portrait during a ceremony commemorating Nelson Mandela International Day, in front of the UN headquarters in New York

Mandela Day, commemorated each year across the world, “will remain crucial for South Africa and humanity”, said Yase Godlo, head of Mandela Day for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, reported Xinhua.

Various South African organisations, and individuals donated books to libraries and schools. Poor families, the elderly and orphans were treated to decent meals; other people planted vegetable gardens as a way to promote food security.

July 18 is the Nelson Mandela Day, celebrated across the globe in honor of the late South African statesman’s birthday after it was formally recognized by the UN General Assembly in 2009.

On this day, millions of people in South Africa and across the world spend 67 minutes of their time cleaning up the environment and doing community work for the good of others. The 67 minutes symbolize the 67 years that Mandela spent fighting for social justice to make the world a better place.

This year’s Mandela Day was the second since the anti-apartheid icon died of a recurring lung infection on December 5, 2013.

“People have realized the significance of Mandela’s legacy, especially after Madiba (Mandela) passed away. Young and old, they have been coming out over the years to do good for others, and upon realizing the difference they made, they go back and do it again,” said Godlo.

The response and partnerships with the foundation have been overwhelming.

South African embassies abroad coordinated activities in their respective countries.

This year’s theme of the Mandela Day was: food security, education and literacy, shelter and infrastructure and service and volunteering.

Graca Machel, widow of Mandela, joined volunteers in packing food parcels at a convention center in Johannesburg, as part of Stop Hunger campaign.

Mandela was “an example of humanity for all ages,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a statement while receiving treatment in a Cape Town hospital for a persistent infection.

Mandela’s grandson, film producer Kweku Mandela, challenged youth to know their status by testing for HIV/AIDS to mark the event.

More than 80,000 university students were tested at the Johannesburg University.

“Nobody else better than Tata (father) Mandela will be happy to find that his young people are safe, his young people are living, his young people are giving back the economy which he had always dreamed of, and it’s our service on Mandela Day to look after young people,” said Dr. Ramneek Aluhwalia, national director of the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS Programme.



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