Corporate Social Investment

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Blankets for the elderly

The cold winter nights will be a little warmer for over a hundred gogos – grandmothers – in Zamdela. The women received blankets from the IDC, with the help of an outstanding nurse.

July 18, 2013

CSIblankets inside82-year-old Adelaide Twala receives a blanket from IDC’s Tebogo Molefe

For 82-year-old Adelaide Twala, receiving blankets to help her keep warm during the cold winter nights brought her peace. It reinforced for her that there were people who still remembered the elderly.

Twala, who lives with her grandchildren and survives on a pension fund, was among a group of 120 gogos from Zamdela township, outside Sasolburg who received blankets from the Industrial Development Corporation on Friday, 6 July.

The old women gathered at a local church, where they sang in praise of God for having brought Good Samaritans their way. To them, it was more than just blankets; it meant that they were not lost in the minds of the community – and that was more than enough.

“I am very happy that you came here today to give us blankets. It is very cold; they will keep us warm during cold winter nights. This is a sign that people love us and it is important to us to know that. God bless you. We are old people; our bodies do not want to be exposed the cold. We believe that you will come back again,” she said.

Speaking on the day, the IDC’s senior manager for corporate social investment, Tebogo Molefe, said the blanket project was close to the heart of the company’s chief executive, Geoffrey Qhena. Qhena has a soft spot for the elderly and introduced the blanket project in 2004, partnering with the struggle stalwart, Andrew Mlangeni.

CSIblankets insideIts jubilation as gogos from Zamdela township get new blankets from the IDC

“Our chief executive has been running the project for several years now,” Molefe said. “He started in Gauteng, then he saw the need to extend it. We then decided roll it out to all the nine provinces in the past two years because the IDC has a presence nationwide.”

Qhena was “a very busy man, but because of his love for elderly people he requested me to make sure that elderly people get blankets. The message from our chief executive is that you play a very important role in society. We want to say, we care about you. We always support youth projects and schools, but we forget the elderly sometimes.”

The blanket project runs every year in June and July. Molefe also thanked Pat Mgwexelwa, a nurse at the Harry Qwala Clinic who helped to organise the grannies. “Without Pat we were not going to be here today. This community is blessed to have her.”

Mgwexelwa said it was humbling to see a big company such as the IDC taking time out to give back and remembering the elderly. “I was raised by a granny myself so I know that having them around is a blessing. They hold families and communities together. To the team at the IDC I want to say thank you and keep it up.”

CSIblankets insidePat Mgwexelwa helped organise the grannies

Mgwexelwa is an active community worker – with the help of the IDC she established an efficient HIV treatment centre in 2011. Called a Nurse Based Initiation of ARV Project, it specialises in HIV management and anti-retroviral initiation and mentoring of nurses. The idea for the project was mooted in 2010 when Mgwexelwa saw that impoverished communities around Sasolburg struggled to access HIV treatment. Some travelled for over two hours for help.

Mgwexelwa and her husband went around the area asking people how they got their HIV treatment, as part of her 67 minutes for Nelson Mandela International Day in 2010. Their findings pushed her to resign from her job at an NGO to get the project off the ground, against her husband’s wishes.

Out of her own pocket she bought a two-roomed park-home which was stationed at Harry Qwala Clinic, after her proposal to the Department of Health to start an HIV treatment centre was approved. Without any form of funding to buy the necessary equipment, she asked the IDC for help.

The corporation provided the furniture for her mini-clinic, which today serves more than 2 000 patients who are on ARV treatment.

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