Young people raise funds for Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital

06 November 2015 - 10:50
By Esther Sibanda, Mbali Mathanjana and Balungile Memani.

In the lead up to Children’s Day, celebrated on 7 November, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust (NMCHT) calls on children to play a part in realising Tata Madiba’s dream of building a children’s hospital.

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital was a project initiated by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund which was established by the late former president in 1995.

It aims to be a specialist, paediatric and tertiary referral hospital, providing medical services to the children of Southern Africa, irrespective of their social and economic background. Not only will the hospital provide health care but it will also be a platform for more research on child health.

“In order to treat children we need to know exactly what is wrong with them and because there aren’t a lot of children’s hospitals there hasn’t been a lot of research in children’s care,” says NMCHT’s Communications Officer Vuyo Lutseke.

According to NMCHT, there are only four specialised children’s hospitals in Africa that serve nearly 450 million children that suffer from life-threatening illnesses.

Fifteen-year-old Sam Harding inspired the “For Kids By Kids” campaign which encourages young people to contribute to the building of the hospital. In 2009, Harding donated a portion of his pocket money each month to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and then began to donate it towards the building of the hospital.

Says Harding, “I was quite small and I had just arrived in South Africa and hadn’t been exposed to seeing the levels of poverty and seeing other children in bad positions so I was thinking about doing anything I could to try and change the lives of anyone.” Harding believes that young people like him can play an important role in affecting other children: “South Africa needs more hospitals and Nelson Mandelas,” he says.

Lutseke agrees, suggesting young people “have fun with it” and pupils from Brescia House School (BHS) in Johannesburg have done exactly that. Christina Seuffert (17) and Angelica Lacovitti (17) from BHS say their school chose to have bake sales as a way to make the fundraising fun. "We knew it would be something everyone could do and that it wouldn't take much time,” says Angelica.

Other than raising funds at school (about R16,600 so far) they also want to spread the word about the hospital and how the public can help: Seuffert says, “It's really important to get the community together and help people and when we heard about 'For Kids By Kids', it was a way (to get involved) especially for Nelson Mandela, such an important figure.”

In remembrance to Tata Madiba the hospital is said to be opening its doors in Parktown late next year. Lutseke reckons, “At that point it will be three years after Mandela passed, so it’s going to be a very important time for the whole country.”

  • This article was written by pupils by from Parktown High School for Girls who participate in Media Monitoring Africa’s Children’s News Agency.