46664 fires up volunteer spirit
Bafana Nzimande10 March 2004
Nelson Mandela's 46664 campaign is set to reposition itself – from merely raising awareness of the HIV/Aids pandemic to encouraging people to actively participate in the fight against the disease.
The first salvo was fired by Mandela himself during a press conference on 6 January, where he spoke of his son Makgatho's death that morning from an Aids-related illness.
Through the launch of the 46664 volunteer campaign, the organisers aim to highlight and revive "the voluntarism spirit".
"The 46664 volunteer campaign is aimed at reviving South Africa's goodwill spirit, particular in the rural areas where community members have taken it on themselves to help those in need", says programme manager Merlyn van Voore.
"The beauty of this campaign", says Van Voore, "is that it does not require people to dig into their pockets. Instead, it encourages people to join in the war against inhumanity by showing compassion and by volunteering their time to support those who are infected, because surely we are all affected by this pandemic."
A hotline has been set up for anyone interesting in joining the fight. To find out more, or to volunteer, call 0800 046664, SMS 08388 9429 46664, e-mail email@example.com, or visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation website.
So far, about 10 000 people have registered as 46664 volunteers, according to Van Voore.
First launched in 2003, the 46664 campaign - named after Mandela's Robben Island prison number - kicked off with a ground-breaking music launch on the Internet and phone networks around the world, followed by an all-star concert in South Africa in November 2003.
Now, the campaign is seeking "to build on this foundation and strengthen its impact in the fight against HIV and Aids"; and more specifically "to inspire ordinary South Africans and businesses to take personal responsibility in the fight against Aids."
The campaign is "forming partnerships with business and civil society to mobilise their employees, members and customers".
So far, several businesses - including Absa, Digital Mall and Pick 'n Pay - have answered the call with social responsibility projects and by encouraging their employees to give of their time.
Local and international celebrities have also taken up the cause, with kwaito star Mandoza and actor Will Smith recently being appointed as 46664 ambassadors.
Kwaito musicians Mzekezeke, Ghetto Lingo and Bouga Luv recently visited the Ikageng Itireleng Aids Ministry, in Orlando, Soweto, which caters for 139 child-headed families that have lost their parents to the disease. The centre, founded by Carol Dyantyi, provides refuge to more than 300 children orphaned by Aids.
"It's really encouraging to see local youth icons positively using their celebrity status to help influence more people to take personal responsibility in the fight against Aids", Van Voore says.
According to Volunteer South Africa director Joan Daries, volunteering "has to be a lifestyle choice, just like going to work or to a gym. We need to make time."
Source: City of Johannesburg