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Work in Mandelaʼs honor

Employees of Volkswagen South Africa renovate a primary school near Volkswagen’s site in Uitenhage

Show of Hands – souvenir photo of volunteers and children at the small primary school.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela. The former president of South Africa, who died in 2013, would have been 98 years old on July 18 of this year. The birthday of this freedom fighter, national hero, and father of the nation is now honored as Mandela International Day. In South Africa, people are called upon to volunteer 67 minutes of work to their communities in remembrance of him. Some employees of Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) have joined in. As part of the Show of Hands employee volunteer program, they put in 300 minutes of urgently needed renovation work at a primary school in the city of Uitenhage, which is also home to VWSA.

Ntlemeza Primary School is located in the township of KwaNobuhle, which is a part of Uitenhage. It has 350 students from kindergarten to seventh grade. But its buildings were in poor condition. The classroom floors were damaged, and the restrooms were not in working order.

Volunteers from Show of Hands concentrated on the kindergarten classrooms and the restrooms. With some professional help, they repaired the walls, ceilings, and floors. New doors were installed and the plumbing is now serviceable again. Volunteers also replanted the flower beds on the school grounds.

Volkswagen South Africa managing director Thomas Schäfer with colleagues working at Ntlemeza Primary School in Uitenhage near the Volkswagen site.

Employees provide artistic enhancements to one of the classrooms.

“It makes me proud that our work here can have a positive influence on the lives of 350 young South Africans,” said VWSA managing director Thomas Schäfer. “It’s wonderful and incredibly inspiring to see our volunteers devote a Saturday morning to this cause.” With reference to Mandela’s famous quote he added, “We know that children need a safe, warm, and encouraging environment to learn. And we have created that for the students at Ntlemeza Primary School.”

This was the 16th volunteer action since the Show of Hands initiative was launched in 2011. Around 1,500 Volkswagen employees have donated their services to the community.