To mark Mandela Day 2022, the management and staff of Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) reached out to support the local disadvantaged communities of Wolwerivier and Radar Bush in the Western Cape.
The principle underlying Mandela Day is that everyone has the ability to make a positive impact by doing something in their own way to change the world and the world of those around them, the company said. To do this, DSCT participated in the associated ‘My 67 Minutes’ initiative that encourages everyone to take 67 minutes – one minute for every year that Mandela fought for human rights and social justice – out of their day to do something for someone else or for their community.
DSCT decided to spread its efforts over Mandela Day itself (18th July) and the following day in order to reach as many under-privileged households as possible. The programme was undertaken in partnership with TLC Outreach Projects, a non-profit welfare organization based in Table View, and together they identified people in need of assistance.
The assistance came in the form of care packages consisting of throw blankets, gloves and beanies, toothbrushes, toothpaste, face cloths and socks. The whole company was involved in making a difference with around one hundred and fifty employees assisting with assembling and distributing the packages to over 600 individuals, DSCT said.
This is all part of DSCT’s community programmes, which have been going on for some time as the company looks for opportunities to make an impact on people’s lives. They do community development across the country throughout the year overseen by the Transformation Department. With shipbuilding a young industry in South Africa, it also raises awareness of what DSCT does and the opportunities it can offer.
“It was a very successful two days,” says Tebogo Skhosana, B-BBEE Transformation Officer at DSCT. “Our efforts were greatly appreciated by the individuals and their communities. Actions like these give them hope and reassure them that they haven’t been forgotten and that they can look forward to a better future.”
“There are a vast number of informal settlements in South Africa. In the Western Cape, there are about 15 000 homeless people, and approximately 3 000 shelters that cannot accommodate everyone. The process was a matter of identifying community needs,” Skhosana said.
After employees identified the initial communities they wished to target, he visited each area to get an idea of the challenges faced. “I went to the communities and sought those who have limited access to services. These settlements lacked basic services such as electricity and proper infrastructure. During load-shedding, the residents make fires to bring warmth, but through this initiative, we were able to provide them with blankets, socks, gloves, and beanies. As we are still in the winter season, and given the load-shedding situation, the winter packs will go a long way for the people.”
“Our community programmes are an important part of who we are,” added Eva Moloi, HR and Transformation Manager at DSCT. “The majority of us who work at DSCT come from disadvantaged backgrounds and coming to work at Damen allows us to grow and explore new opportunities. These initiatives enable us to give something back.”
Discussions are already underway about giving further assistance to Wolwerivier and Radar Bush.
As a company, DSCT says it always seeks to fill in the gap by providing relief to communities. In 2020, the team gave an immune system boost pack for essential workers during the Covid-19 hard lockdown.
Earlier this year, the team reached out to two underdeveloped schools in rural areas. During this outreach project, girls were provided with much needed sanitary towels, toiletries, and stationery was provided to the learners. Moloi says that many girls in rural areas do not have access to basic feminine hygiene products. “These things exist and through our initiatives, we want to recognise that they exist and to see if there is an opportunity where we can assist them. If you listen to their stories, you hear their limitations.”
“DSCT looks forward to its next socio-economic initiative which will focus specifically on the upliftment of black military veteran led communities,” Moloi said.