What is Mandela Day?
Nelson Mandela International Day, also known as Mandela Day, is held on the 18th of July each year. This day recognises the former South African president’s remarkable and powerful contribution to peace and freedom, not only in South Africa but in the entire world.
This year, 2018 marked the Centenary Celebration of Madiba’s legacy, honouring his life, achievements and contributions in working toward democracy, human rights and racial equality.
Beyond celebrating Madiba’s life, Mandela Day is also a global call for people to recognise their ability to have a positive impact on the world and people around them.
Mandela Day inspires people to embrace some of the values that Mandela shared in his lifetime, and encourages each person to dedicate at least 67 minutes of their time, either through volunteering or community service, toward making a positive difference in their community and country.
In honour of Mandela’s contribution to education in South Africa, Blue Couch Reading and Writing Space celebrated Madiba’s legacy and the ways in which he shaped our Rainbow nation to what it is today.
What is Blue Couch Reading and Writing Space?
Blue Couch Reading and Writing Space is a Cape Town-based non-profit organisation which aims to assist and improve the reading and writing abilities of children in the Westlake community.
Established in April 2017 by Mary-Ann and Patrick Heynes, Blue Couch Reading and Writing Space is managed from their home in Lynx Way, Westlake.
The Blue Couch Story
Mary-Ann and Patrick’s home has always been open to the children in the Westlake community. When their youngest daughter started school, they understood the importance of having a good education and invested interest in her schooling.
Through helping their daughter with her homework in the afternoons, children in the neighbourhood began bringing their own homework to Mary-Ann and Patrick’s home so that they too could be assisted and guided by someone. It soon became apparent that these children were illiterate.
It was then that Mary-Ann and Patrick decided to dedicate their time to assist the children in developing and improving their reading skills so that they are able to understand their school work and move forward in their schooling career.
With friends, family and colleagues volunteering their time, Mary-Ann and Patrick now have a formal reading and learning group every Thursday afternoon at 3PM with volunteers assisting the children with their schoolwork.
The Aim of Blue Couch
Blue Couch Reading and Writing Space aims to reach people of all ages in the Westlake area to assist in improving their literacy skills.
At the moment, Blue Couch Reading and Writing Space consists only of children, with ages ranging from four to twelve years old. Each Thursday, Michelle Cox, a teacher in Tokai, organises reading, writing and creative activities for the children to do. With the help of volunteers, the children are assisted in completing their tasks.
Blue Couch not only aims to assist the children mentally, but emotionally too. The children have the freedom to express themselves without being reprimanded but not in a way that causes harm to another child or person.
The children are encouraged to be patient and to listen carefully when another person is speaking. They are taught to respect one another and are encouraged to be kind, and to share with others. The children are celebrated and appreciated for their work and effort, which is something quite rare in their lives.
Behind the Name
Blue Couch Reading and Writing Space was named by co-founder, Patrick Heynes. Patrick explains the reason he named the organization ‘Blue Couch’ is because he wanted to inspire and bring colour to the lives of these children, as well as offer them a sense of comfort and security in a caring and patient environment.
Most of these children are not growing up in supportive or safe surroundings, and Blue Couch aims to serve as a contrast to that reality. Blue Couch serves as a safe space for children, where they can learn, be creative and express themselves without being reprimanded or punished.
Celebrating Mandela Day 2018
This Mandela Day, the children at Blue Couch Reading and Writing Space got creative. They merged the honouring of Tata Madiba with the reasons why they love coming to Blue Couch.
If you are looking for more information about Blue Couch Reading and Writing Space, or are interested in volunteering or assisting at Blue Couch Reading and Writing Space, please contact: