Stellenbosch University’s Facilities Management staff and suppliers arrived in full force at AF Louw Primary School on Monday, 18 July 2022, to get their hands dirty for Mandela Day. There was even massive congestion as vehicles made their way into the school yard early morning, offloading chain saws, ladders, paint, grinders, and gardening equipment.
“I was expecting a few people to come to our school this morning, but this is a full-scale operation,” said Principal Anne Tarr. “Thank you for touching lives here today. We must teach our children to dream; this is how dreams come true. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Because Principal Tarr and this school touched her life, Aloma Fourie, Manager: maintenance planning at FM’s Property Services, was delighted that this school was picked for this year’s Mandela project.
Together with Robert Todkill, technical advisor, and the maintenance team at FM, Aloma quickly assembled a team to get the maintenance wheels rolling. “You give a job like this to Aloma, and magic happens,” said Nicolette van den Eijkel, FM’s Chief Director, who thanked each person for arriving and helping where they could. Over 170 people helped somehow on Mandela day to improve the school.
And magic it was. FM’s staff and suppliers came to this school with their fleet of construction vehicles, equipment, and staff. You saw people everywhere painting walls, sanding floors, fixing roofs, doors, and windows, trimming trees, and restoring a fragile sports pavilion to its former glory. A corner patch of barren ground is now this school’s beautiful vegetable garden. It is also the spot that our Chief Operating Officer, Prof Stan du Plessis, chose to give his 67 minutes (and more) for Mandela Day 2022.
Aloma said she wanted to show that SU is not an entity in isolation. “SU is part of the bigger Stellenbosch community, and what we do impacts everybody that lives here. I wish that the children from this school be inspired by SU as a place that is there for the bigger community.” Many of FM’s staff and their children attended this school.
“Some of our suppliers and staff were on site almost this whole week leading up to Mandela Day, as there was a lot of work to be done,” said Brandon Como, who took the lead on this event “It is unbelievable how everyone just came on board to make this project far better than what we anticipated.” Staff even organised to collect non-perishable articles which was donated to the school. Brandon and his organising committee did wonders in arranging the day’s logistics and ensured everyone was there, had their tools and a much-deserved lunch.
The atmosphere at AF Louw on Monday was eclectic and energetic. You could not help laughing at all the sayings from people working hand-in-hand and against the clock to restore, fix and create a place that learners will be proud to return to. People said they were privileged to be part of a group of people that give of themselves, so you cannot even find words to describe it.
Watch the video here for a quick glimpse of the day’s activities.