A joint initiative between women at Corporate Office and O.R.Tambo International, the Women Volunteer programme supports the company's SED strategy in making a difference by assisting people with disabilities, this in partnership with the Association for the Physically Disabled (APD).
Launched in 2009, the programme encourages female employees to identify special needs schools that require assistance with improving the lives of pupils. This is key to Airports Company South Africa as these special needs schools, located around the airports, are often located in previously disadvantaged communities that are and may not have access to services due to limited funds and facilities. Significant projects were undertaken by the volunteers in the year under review.
In celebration of World Day for Safety and Health at Work, on 28 April 2013, the volunteers presented a children's changing table to the Sithandiwe Home for Children with Disabilities. Previously, the care workers had to change the children on a mattress on the floor, resulting in back strain. The new changing table is on wheels and can be used in many areas of the home, much to the appreciation of the care workers.
Mandela Day in 2013 was celebrated by the volunteers at the Sithandiwe Home for Children with Disabilities, where they took over the care givers' responsibilities for the day. In addition, the care workers were treated to some pampering in the form of pedicures and manicures to thank them for the tremendous work that they do, and they each received a small gift from the volunteers.
In addition, the volunteers created a vegetable garden to ensure the provision of nutritious food for the children at the home for years to come. A previously neglected part of the garden was transformed into a well-planned and well laid-out garden with all the structures put in place to make it a success. The volunteers also prepared a nutritious meal for both the children and care workers and provided clothing and other essential items to the home. With the hard work of the day completed, the volunteers joined the children and care workers and celebrated Mandela Day by playing games, dancing and singing.
The volunteers launched the School Funding Competition at six different schools throughout Gauteng to provide funding for both the schools and children through responding to letters of appeal. Volunteers spent many hours at the schools to help establish the needs of all concerned and to assist with the preparation of the letters of appeal.
Although the competition provides funding to three appeals from both schools and children, deemed most deserving by the volunteers, almost 80 percent of all of the appeals received were fulfilled by the efforts of the Volunteers who went out into their communities to collect items that had been requested. It greatly saddened the Volunteers to see how many children appealed for basic foodstuff but they rose to the challenge and provided a food parcel for every child who had made that appeal. Toys were sourced for those children who requested something as simple as a ball or a toy car. Clothing and school uniforms were also donated by the volunteers to be handed to those in need.
The competition culminated with a prize giving function held at Thembinkosi School in Tembisa on 5 December 2014, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The function was attended by representatives of all the schools that participated in the competition and a festive day saw performances from many of the children who entered the 'Airports Company South Africa Idols Competition'. Working in some of South Africa's poorest communities, the Women Volunteer Programme has a significant impact on people with disabilities and their extended families. We are blessed to have a team of dedicated and committed volunteers who work tirelessly to assist those less fortunate.