Samaritan’s Feet South Africa Honors National Hero Through Service
By Marketing and PR Intern Seth Crawford
Nelson Mandela Day is an international holiday that commemorates the life of South Africa’s first democratically elected president. Mandela is the father of South African democracy as well as one of the strongest advocates against poverty and inequality worldwide.
Every July 18th South Africa celebrates Nelson Mandela Day by devoting the day to service. The goal for the holiday is to help change the world for the better by devoting 67 minutes to actively serving others. 67 is the number of years Mandela spent fighting for the rights of people everywhere.
This year Samaritan’s Feet’s South Africa office decided to celebrate the day by dedicating seven distributions in its honor. Samaritan’s Feet country coordinator in South Africa, Mikailé Bester, believes that Samaritan’s Feet’s mission aligns perfectly with Mandela’s own mission.
“Both Samaritan’s Feet and Mr. Mandela’s legacy aim at empowering people to make a difference in their community by acts of service and kindness.” Bester said. “With Samaritan’s Feet, in addition to that, it’s about emphasizing Jesus Christ as the ultimate beacon of hope.”
Because Mandela day is such a national movement in South Africa, the children receiving the shoes understood the connection between the distributions and the holiday. Bester said that the South African team emphasized to the children that though they were being served in honor of Mandela day, they were not being served because of Mandela. They had the opportunity to be served because of Jesus who loves them and has a plan for them.
Although service is expected in South Africa on this day, the nature of these distributions shocked many who witnessed them.
“People were mostly surprised that we were giving away brand new shoes and expecting nothing in return,” Bester said. “They were also surprised at the number of shoes going out from an NPO and not a big corporation.”
Samaritan’s Feet South Africa distributed a total of 2,485 pairs of shoes on Mandela day. Some of the shoes distributed had lights in the soles and tops of the shoes that flashed when the children walked. This was a huge hit as they excitedly strutted around in their new shoes. One 3-year-old’s excitement stood out to Bester.
“He was squirming like a little worm, he was so excited,” Bester said. “Once he had his shoes on, he was jumping around and pointing at them and totally showing them off.”
At a distribution in Mbekweni, it was encouraging to see people from the community come out to volunteer and serve the primary school children. More than 100 local volunteers united to wash feet and distribute shoes to these kids on a surprisingly beautiful day.
“We had the first proper sunshine day we had had in almost two weeks,” Bester said. “This in itself was such a kindness from our Father as it had been flooding in certain areas in and around Cape Town the preceding week and our largest outreach was weather dependent.”
For more on Samaritan’s Feet South Africa, visit them on Facebook at Facebook.com/SamaritansFeetSA.