The story of Mabel Maleka exemplifies both the spirit and the purpose of the Mandela Day campaign. Mabel suffers from diabetes and has lost sight in both eyes, due to cataracts, during the Covid-19 lockdown. The overwhelmed public health system has been unable to assist her. A third-year B.Com Finance student at the University of Johannesburg, Mabel’s studies have consequently come to a halt.
Women4Girls and the Nelson Mandela Foundation stepped in following a public call on social media led by her friends, Matsepo Lekgoathi and Bontle Maseema, with the hashtag #HelpMabelSeeAgain. The two foundations have taken on Mabel’s needs as a Mandela Day challenge and raised the money required for a private hospital operation very quickly, with the help of other generous social media contributors. Special thanks are due here to Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs attorneys, the Vista Alumni Foundation, and everyone else who responded quickly and generously to the call.
We encountered Dr Tebogo Maleka (unrelated) at the Safesight Cataract and Eye Laser Centre who offered to do the operation immediately and free of charge. We are grateful to him and all his professional partners. The operation is taking place today (Thursday, 9 July 2020). The funds which have been raised will now be used by the Maleka family to cover the continuing costs of diabetes medication, food security and related expenses.
The Mandela Day campaign belongs to the many unsung heroines and heroes who see a need and who care enough to find a way of meeting that need. It was in 2009, in response to Madiba’s first Mandela Day call to action, that Dr Khamane Matseke of the Clinix Group committed to doing 67 eye operations for the most vulnerable, free of charge. There was a certain poignancy to this Mandela Day activation, given Madiba’s own issues with ocular health due to his prison experiences. Incredibly, Dr Matseke has maintained his commitment as an annual offering ever since. The Nelson Mandela Foundation honours him and his team.
May we all be inspired by doctors Maleka and Matseke to do what we can to make Mandela Day 2020 a special one.
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Women4Girls and the Nelson Mandela Foundation teamed up with Dr Tebogo Maleka to restore a Johannesburg student's eyesight.