Mandela Day, 18 July, is an extraordinary day for many all over the world. On this day, people are encouraged to dedicate 67 minutes for a noble cause. This year was no exception for the City of Cape Town. The City’s Tourism, Events and Economic Development officials initiated and coordinated a half day tour for a group of 36 girls, including 4 carers from Ons Plek, Cape Town and Siviwe in Woodstock. The tour entailed a tour of the city on the popular Red Bus with a pit stop at Table Mountain Arial Cable Way, the Cape Peninsula, and Green Point Urban Park and ended off at the Cape Town Stadium where the girls had the opportunity to see amongst other things, the soccer pitch where international and local soccer stars showcase their craft. The girls ‘felt like tourists’ in their own city and during the final leg of the tour, the girls ‘wished the tour could start all over again’!
Ons Plek is the only residential Child and Youth Care Centre in Cape Town. They specialize in developmental and therapeutic intake services for girls who have lived, worked or begged on the streets of Cape Town. The girls’ basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, education and love are provided, with care that aims to be healing for the girls and their families. Once the children have crossed the threshold into Ons Plek they are not there as street children, but as children who are looking for a new place in society. They are not looking for an identity as former street children either, but want to be seen as ordinary children. For them Ons Plek is not a project for female street children, but a place, OUR PLACE, where ‘sifunda ukuphila’ — we learn for our future lives. Siviwe, meaning ‘God has heard us’, also named by the girls, provides an environment undisturbed by direct contact with street life. Once the girls have weaned themselves from street life while at Ons Plek, and adjusted to a more structured life, they can move to Siviwe in Woodstock. Like Ons Plek, Siviwe is a registered residential Child and Youth Care Centre, and the services dovetail with that of the Ons Plek Intake Centre’
The event was supported by some of the industry’s big players, making the “tourist experience” possible and extraordinary for the girls. Support came from CitySightSeeing Cape Town, Tsogo Sun’s The Cullinan Hotel, African Eagle Tours, Mc Donald’s Green Point as well as Associated Magazines.
The Directorate wishes to acknowledge industry support and those business made this opportunity possible … in Tata’s words …What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.
— Nelson Mandela