As Nelson Mandela said, poverty is man-made, which means it’s also possible for us to end it.
But only if we work together to end inequality.
Whether it’s ending hunger, creating economic opportunities, or helping vulnerable children and families access quality healthcare and education, Mandela’s legacy teaches us that it’s possible to change society if we are guided by the spirit of ubuntu, which calls on everyone to help end poverty.
Ubuntu is a southern African philosophy which speaks to the fact that we are all connected and that one can only grow and progress through the growth and progression of others.
Tsogo Sun believes that giving back goes beyond funding various education and entrepreneurial programmes.
The company also has an employee volunteering programme that allows thousands of staff to donate their time and skills to local communities.
“It’s our way of reducing inequality by using the collective voices of staff to engage with communities and meet whatever needs are identified,” says Shanda Paine, Tsogo Sun Group’s corporate social investment manager.
Charity as part of business
South Africa is among the nations that have adopted the UN’s Global Goals, which works towards ending extreme poverty by 2030 — goals like zero hunger, gender equality, health and wellbeing, quality education, and reduced inequality.
Mandela called on governments, corporates, and individuals to work together to meet the targets set by the Global Goals — and ultimately end extreme poverty.
This is particularly important in South Africa where, despite significant progress made to reduce inequality, poverty is still on the rise.
By embracing annual charity days like the CANSA Shavathon, Reach for a Dream’s Slipper Day, and Casual Day, South Africa’s leading fundraising campaign for people with disabilities − Tsogo Sun’s teams are helping to support some of the most vulnerable communities in the country.
In most cases, children are among the primary beneficiaries, with maintenance, vegetable gardening, and improvements done in creches, schools, day care centres, and children’s homes around the country.
“Depending on their needs, various children’s organisations are given blankets, toys, baby clothing, toiletries, playground equipment, books for libraries, stationery and linen,” adds Paine.
Tsogo Sun teams also join other corporates to distribute food parcels at the annual Rise Against Hunger event in a bid to eradicate child hunger in unregistered Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres.
The Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated on July 18 to honour his legacy by spending 67 or more minutes doing charitable work.
On this day, Tsogo Sun teams around the country spend time renovating buildings like schools and community halls, as well donating food and essential supplies to various old age homes, youth centres, and schools for children with special needs.
“Last year, staff at Mykonos Casino organised themselves into nine teams of over 30 staff members to supply shelves and paint at a creche, and donate appliances and linen to a disability centre,” Paine says.
Teams also donated running shoes for children who are part of an athletics club, supplied children’s books and sweet packs to a youth centre, and donated food parcels, toys, clothes, household items, and treats to a children’s and an old age home.
Skills development and education
Beyond Mandela Day, primary schools and ECD centres are also supported by staff in initiatives that include establishing libraries, helping out in Moves for Life chess tournaments, and planting food gardens.
In high schools, as an integral part of the Tsogo Sun career development programme, volunteers from a wide range of departments across numerous properties join the professionals day and job shadowing day programmes.
At these, volunteers discuss their careers, with a focus on sharing their life stories, subject choices, tertiary studies, career trajectories, work life experiences, and aspirations, to give the learners a clearer picture of the work environment and to guide them in their career choices.
“On the job shadowing days, our volunteers gave the youngsters the chance to try their hand at a range of tasks, patiently explaining the nitty gritty of the different jobs to guide them in their career choices,” adds Paine. “The result was that the learners said they had gained a far better understanding of the work environment, employment expectations, and what different jobs entailed than they had had before.”
In Cape Town, volunteers from Tsogo Sun hotels and regional office join the annual Building Blitz, working alongside volunteers from around the globe to help complete schools and homes.
The Building Blitz is an annual week-long event organised by Mellon Educate, an Irish-based African development charity. Over the past 15 years they have built houses for more than 125,000 people in South Africa’s poorest townships, and more recently pledged a 10-year education development programme to benefit more than 100,000 disadvantaged learners.
“Many thousands of lives are touched in tangible ways by Tsogo Sun people every year, and the spirit of giving has become a beautiful and ingrained part of the culture of the organisation,” says Paine. “This is something Tsogo Sun will always be proud of.”