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22 July 2019 | Story Zama Feni | Photo Rene Jansen
UFS Mandela Day
Students from the UFS Faculty of Health Sciences cutting grass and planting trees at the Badernhorst Street entrance to the Bloemfontein Campus

On Nelson Mandela International Day, groups of staff from the University of the Free State (UFS) reached out to the needy, devoting a little of their time to make a difference in the community; this was in reaction to the national call to participate in charitable activities on the day.

This year is the tenth anniversary of Nelson Mandela International Day, when people are encouraged to spend at least 67 minutes of their time in commemoration of the birthday of the late struggle icon and former president of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela; however, the goodwill efforts of UFS staff went far beyond the required time.

Psychology Student Association encourages civic responsibility 

The Faculty of the Humanities celebrated Mandela Day with the Psychology Student Association (PSA) at the Rag Farm on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State on 19 July 2019. The students were provided an opportunity to better themselves and to get information on opportunities awaiting them as Psychology graduates. Mabatho Ntsieng, Community Engagement Officer, encouraged students to continue to be of service to the community of Bloemfontein. “Community engagement is not just about improving your CV or bettering your chances to be accepted into the Psychology master’s programme,” she said.

Students were encouraged to regularly reflect on aspects that will enable personal growth and will help to understand the benefits of community engagement. The faculty prides itself in producing graduates who understand their civic responsibility. Empathy, knowledge, and involvement are the three values promoted in the PSA; these values assist in developing well-rounded individuals.

Dr Molelekoa Kometsi, Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, and Kaylene Pillay, a student in the master’s programme, were invited as guest speakers. The UFS Careers Office was invited to explain to students the changes that are already happening in the world of work, and how to upskill and reskill themselves in order to stay more relevant in the ever-changing world.

Blankets for hospital patients

Chants of joy reverberated through the passages of the Pelonomi Hospital yesterday as the Friends of Pelonomi team, led by the UFS Head of the School of Clinical Medicine, Prof Nathaniel Mofolo, handed over 41 blankets to the Pelonomi Hospital’s postnatal ward. 

Operational Manager for Maternity at the hospital, Tseleng Kodisang, was grateful to the university team for lending a helping hand to the hospital.

“We sometimes get women who need maternity assistance at our hospital, and they come with bare hands – I mean with literally nothing, so these blankets will help in such cases,” she said. 

Prof Mofolo thanked all those who made donations.

“This is the start, not the end,” he promised.

UFS students give pavement a facelift

A stretch of pavement of a little more than 100 metres in front of the UFS’ Gate 2 looks much better now after students from the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences gave it a bit of a face-lift in celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day.

The pavement in front of the Free State Provincial Archives is now neatly trimmed and boasts some succulents in brightly coloured tyres, surrounded by concrete stones.

Coordinator of this programme, Ms Ronelle Jansen, said: “We hope that all the efforts we have made here will help to change the look of this entrance.” 

Head of the Free State Provincial Archives, Tshitso Challa, and his team also assisted the university team with cutting grass and cleaning the pavement.

“We thank the university for initiating this. It is a reflection of partnership. We, as the staff, decided not to sit and watch, but to join and contribute as well,” he said.

Knitting to keep children warm

Eugene Seegers reports that staff members linked to the research division on the South Campus for Open Distance Learning, took to needles and wool for the Masikhule NGO's 67 Minutes for Mandela Day project, Cast on 4 Kids

They have been knitting many multi-coloured squares over the past year. These will be sewn into blankets to keep children, who attend the early childhood development centres (such as crèches) in impoverished communities, warm.

One of the members of the South Campus knitting group, Nelia Oosthuysen, said, “We hope to expand the project and involve more colleagues on campus in the coming year.” 

She added that some of the gentlemen on the South Campus are already part of the knitting crew, while others have intrepidly ventured into uncharted waters and learnt basic knitting techniques. 
“This is not only a community-service project, but also a very effective destressing method,” said Oosthuysen.

Encouraging a culture of learning

Eloise Calitz reports that fourteen UFS Library staff members spent their 67 minutes at the local Botlehadi Primary School, where they cleaned the library space, classified books, and trained two teachers and 18 learners in library administration. The purpose was to encourage the 400 learners at the school to develop a culture of reading.

During the handover, Library Director Betsy Eister, said, “Teachers should lead by example by also reading and using the library. By doing that, the learners will follow, and we will indeed achieve the dream of a reading nation.”

FARMOVS reaches out to animal shelter 

Staff members from the FARMOVS Clinical Research Facility spent the morning of Mandela Day at the New Beginnings Animal Rescue Centre, where they dropped off donations and helped to exercise and groom destitute animals.

“It was a great experience for all of us,” says Lee-Anne Reineke of the FARMOVS Social Committee. “Our staff really opened their hearts for this wonderful organisation that does such valuable work, not only in aid of animal welfare, but also reaching out to needy people in the vicinity. We managed to donate a large amount of money as well as a lot of food, blankets, toys, collars, and gift packs for the children.”

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