As anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela celebrated his 95th birthday on Thursday recuperating in a hospital in South Africa, the South African embassy in the city brought cheer to more than 50 children of sex workers in a shelter in Kamathipura on the occasion.
July 18 is observed as Nelson Mandela International Day by the United Nations.
“South Africans around the world were encouraged to spend 67 minutes in charity work on Thursday to commemorate Mandela’s 67 years of fighting for rights. This day is special for us and there is no better present than reaching out to disadvantaged children,” said Consul general Pule Malefane, who spent the day at the Jeevan Jyoti shelter in Kamathipura.
“We have some corporate partners who have committed to back the organisation in its work at the shelter,” he said.
The shelter houses children across all age groups, the youngest being seven-year-old, to those in their early twenties pursuing higher studies.
“The shelter is home to children who would have otherwise been pushed into the flesh trade. Since we run on donations, such support is very helpful,” said KK Devaraj, executive director, Bombay Teen Challenge, which has been running the shelter for more than a decade.
The children attended a presentation on Mandela’s life, organised by the embassy. “I knew about Nelson Mandela before but I had never realised how much he had struggled,” said a 17-year-old girl, not wishing to be named.