Madiba Day is always a fantastic day to see how ordinary folk and companies take their  PSP (Personal Sustainability Project, a phrase coined by Adam Werbach) seriously. 

I spent the greater part of the morning in the Ocean View belt, another improverished area which seldom makes the headlines. The schools in the area make magic every day for the community. The learners at the schools are blessed to have such dedicated, passionate community workers who shower them with so much love, care and support.

Off to Compass Bakery, looking for a Madiba Partner

So, off went Helen – our engine at the Circuit office – and I, straight to Compass Bakery. We met Miguel of Compass Bakery who listened to our request to partner with them for the day. He was thrilled with the idea because his wife had just called to hear what he was doing to celebrate our beloved Father of the Nation’s 94th birthday. And here we walk in and provide him with an answer. How cool is that? A few minutes later Helen and I trekked with 4 carry bags of freshly baked biscuits and cup cakes for the educator and support staff of Ocean View LSEN, Kleinberg Primary, Marine Primary and Ocean View High School.

At Ocean View LSEN, School for learners with Special Needs

Farida Abrahams, Principal of Ocean View LSEN singing happy birthday, Madiba with children and Navy staff

Ocean View LSEN learners enjoy being taken through their paces by an  ambulanceman

Simonstown High learners painted the fence  at Ocean View LSEN

Lance Buchan, a community member, sanding a door at Ocean View LSEN

Ambulance staff after their stint at Ocean View LSEN

Helen Visagie posing with a few fire fighters at Ocean View LSEN
At Ocean View LSEN there is a hive of activity. We can’t even find a place to park. The Navy was busy fixing the gutters, 4 Simonstown High School learners had just finished painting the vibracete perimeter fence of the school, Lance Buchan, a community member was sanding a door, firefighters were doing all kinds of repair work and the learners with principal, Farieda, were busy singing Happy Birthday, Madiba in the play area.  The buzz was infectious. We passed on the sweet treats to Farieda and off we drove to Kleinberg Primary School.

Now to Kleinberg and Ocean View High School

At Kleinberg Primary school, we bump into members of the SA Defence force, looking relaxed in their rather stiff uniforms. They have come to clean the school grounds. Once we had negotiated a parking spot for our car amongst the camouflage vehicles, we run in and deliver our Compass Bakery gift. Next we rush off to the high school, Ocean View High school. The principal, Keith Klein and the secretary are excited when we hand over the cakes. Ooooh, and are we glad we had just arrived about 20 minutes before their interval. We are told all the teachers would visit a learner’s home to meet their parents and just chat – their 67 minutes of community work. 

94 handprints of Foundation Phase learners at Marine Primary

Santam Insurance brokers with Wayne Lawrence looking on.

Santam Insurance brokers installing the Jungle Gym at Marine Primary

Santam volunteers pushing their wheel barrows

Ocean View High staff members show their appreciation for the cakes that are left - for the next  few minutes, I think!

Marine Primary is next...

Our last stop is at Marine Primary school. Here Wayne Lawrence, the principal is equally surprised to see us laden with cake. We are taken to the area where the Foundation learners and their teachers created a handprint mural and then we meet the Santam volunteers who are busy constructing a jungle gym in the junior primary area. Fascinating stuff.

Whirlwind school drop-ins come full circle at Steenberg Primary

I drop Helen off at the office and rush off to Steenberg Primary School, a school that has lost an innocent 8-year old, Zunaid, caught in the crossfire of gangster war now in the June holidays. Vernon Erfort, the Acting Principal, has just told me the day before, that Zunaid’s parents came to the school and just sat and cried endlessly. They just wanted to be in the space where Zunaid spent the greater part of his life, I console. Then I hear that another mom reported that very morning that her husband – the father of two of Steenberg Primary School children ( in Grade 1 and 3) has also been killed on the same day as Zunaid.  Hearing such trauma and knowing that these two incidents are but representative of what the Lavender Hill-Steenberg belt is experiencing on a daily basis, can be paralyzing. What do you say to communities who have to bear the brunt of unending violence, gang war, drug smuggling – knowing they are under siege and they are all at risk?  But let me get back to the day’s events…
Raphael, Southern Mail reporter, Vernon Erfort (Acting Principal)  pose with General Japhta, Deputy Provincial  Commissioner of Western Cape.

Vernon Erfort, General Japhta, Sharon Lewin and Colonel Joseph of Steenberg SAPS

Commitment by SAPS
SAPS have chosen Steenberg Primary as the ’67 minute’ community outreach project. The Deputy Provincial Commissioner, General Japhta, was there with many delegates from the Steenberg SAPS branch. SAPS participated in the assembly specially held for the learners. A teacher, Valda, commented: I was shocked to hear how a Grade 2 learner could describe vividly a ‘tik’ lolly and how to use it. Yep, this is what our children are exposed to.  I am glad to be here at this school. The Madiba Day outreach by SAPS, I believe, is in honour of Zunaid, our latest victim of the brutality and the violence that our communities face daily. 

General Japhta briefly outlines what she sees as the strengthening of the SAPS-Steenberg and Steenberg Primary School partnership: learners will be taught the drill, anti-drug talks will be arranged and motivational talks are also on the card.  She is going to return in a month’s time to see whether these were actioned. ‘My kinda woman’, I muse to myself. This is a step in the right direction.

My Madiba family woven in...

My working day has been one rollercoaster of seeing ordinary people doing amazing things. There are NO bounds to people’s sense of goodwill; we only need to tap into our citizens amazing spirit of giving, of sharing and things will happen.  We need more days like Madiba Day so that we can have a continuous stream of community activism to permeate the consciousness of all of us.

I finally trek off to my daughter, Sasha’s school where she had asked me earlier in a bbm to be patient. She was part of the group making sleeping bags for the homeless. Aaah… I am so proud of her of being connected to her compatriots.
Ma Lewin with Sasha, me and Basil

Ma Lewin with her lovely thoughtful message written by Azz

As a finale to the Madiba Day, we took Ma, my mother-in-law, out for supper at Ocean Basket at the Mitchell's Plain Promenade Shopping mall. A young, spritely waiter, Azz, made such a fuss of her – even writing “Thank you, Ma!!!! on her doggie bag. Ma is an independent 85-year old who lives in a retirement village. Ma is a perfect example of community activism. She is always helping others by either fetching her peers’ medication, offering some conversation or sharing her possessions. And she is the best samp-and-beans soup cook - a true South African dish.  The adage - charity begins at home- is so true and I would not have been able to put my head down tonight if I did not pay homage to Ma Lewin as well.

Viva to South Africans who live Ubuntu!!! Viva.


  1. Thanks, Sharon, for being the queen of ubuntu!


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