The SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) annual initiative to provide festive cheer to men and women serving away from home and their families gets underway in Kinshasa today.
A delegation of about 50 people including donors and sponsors flew to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) capital on the first leg of a handover flight that will see them stop in Lubumbashi and Goma before returning to South Africa on Friday.
Heading up the handover party is Lieutenant General Norman Yengeni who will oversee the handover of close to a thousand Goodwill Project gits to servicemen and women who will be spending the holiday season on duty and far from home.
Next week will see another Goodwill Project team head to seven of South African’s nine borders to personally hand over gifts to soldiers deployed on the national border protection tasking – Operation Corona.
Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, SSO 1, Operation Communications at SANDF Joint Operations, said each and every member of service currently taking part in Operation Corona would receive his or her gift personally. There are currently around 2,500 SANDF members deployed along the country’s land borders.
“Those tasked with delivering Goodwill Project gifts will literally be going into the trenches to make sure the soldiers get their gifts.”
The current security situation in Sudan has seen to it that South Africans serving there as part of the AU/UN mission will not have the pleasure of personally getting some Christmas cheer from fellow South Africans.
“A decision has been taken and although there will be no personal visit from Goodwill project representatives, our men and women in uniform in Sudan will get their gifts. These will be handed to them by the mission commander on an appropriate occasion,” he said.
The first recipients of 2015 Goodwill Projects largesse were the 440 soldiers who departed the de Brug mobilisation centre on November 19 on rotation to the DRC mission, Operation Mistral.
This year marks the 14th year of existence of the Goodwill Project, an initiative traditionally headed up by the wife of the SANDF Chief. Under the guidance of Charlotte Shoke the project raised R6.8 million from sponsors and donations.
In addition to the gifts for soldiers serving continentally or on South Africa’s borders their families will receive hamper packs containing a minimum of 27 household items before December 11.