Nelson Mandela Foundation

Ethel  Arends Cropped

We speak to one of the Foundation's longest-serving staff members, Ethel Arends, about Mandela Day:

1. When did you start working for the Foundation?

I started working at the Foundation on the 11th of November 1999.

2. When was your first Mandela Day and what did you do?

It was so long ago that I honestly don’t remember.

3. What did you think of the 67Minutes campaign?

I think it’s a brilliant idea. Doing something good for someone else is always a good thing. Doing something good for someone else, not only benefits them it also benefits you as a person too. This is something which I would like to practice in my personal life every day.

It is also a wonderful way of honouring Madiba and fulfilling his Legacy. It is also a great way of remembering what he has done for us as a nation.

4. What did you do this Mandela Day?

So this Mandela Day I went to Girls and Boys town in Kagiso, Randfontein and planted vegetables such as beetroot, onions, cabbage, spinach and plants. We also planted a plant – a creeper which creeps up the wall.

I took pictures at the “Rays of Hope event” in Alexandra. We also planted peach trees as part of our Mandela Day Activation. I also took pictures at the Afrika Tikkun event in Braamfontein. We also planted peach trees as part of our Mandela Day Activation.

I also took pictures at the 8km Mandela Day Houghton run. Just capturing the moment of the participants walking and running in honour of Madiba. I also took pictures at the “Lady Blacksmith Mambazo performance at the Joburg Theatre. They were performing in honour of Madiba and also capturing the moment. They put on such a beautiful performance.

We had two exhibitions displayed at the Joburg Theatre, “Mandela’s life story” and the Exhibition on the “NMF”. I also took pictures of these two exhibitions.

5. How does the 67Minutes campaign compare to the current one of 'Make Every Day A Mandela Day'? and 'Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are."

I think it’s the same where you dedicated 67 minutes of your time to doing good and being of service to someone else. I just think the theme was different then.

6. If you do, why do you think Mandela Day is important?

Of course, I think Mandela Day is important. I think it is important to always give back and to do good for your fellow human being. Not only do they benefit but you benefit too. When you help someone else it makes you feel good too. There are so many people who are suffering and have no food in this world, and any little bit that you can do will make a difference in their lives. It is so important to be kind to one another because we are all fighting a battle that no one knows about.

I love playing a small part in something as big as Mandela Day.

7. What do you plan to do on next year's Mandela Day?

On next year’s Mandela Day I would like to continue planting vegetables. I did it this year and it was such a wonderful experience because I have never planted anything before and to know that the children at a Boys and Girls town will benefit from what we have planted. It is also a sustainable project. I would love to be part of a project that is sustainable for the community and not a once-off project.