Toggle nav Stars Foundation

Stars Foundation invests in organisations and ideas that transform the lives of disadvantaged children and their communities globally.

Read more.

Mandela: Forever to serve as a great inspiration

Posted by: Emma on 18 Jul 2014
in News

Today would have been Nelson Mandela's 96th birthday.

The legendary political leader and anti-apartheid icon, who died just last year, inspired millions of people - not only with his messages calling for equality and peace, but for his fearless activism and resolve in the face of enormous injustice.

Since 2010, July 18 has been celebrated as 'Nelson Mandela International Day'.

More than a commemoration of his life and legacy, Mandela Day is a movement to encourage others - particularly young people - to act with the same bold spirit and sense of civic duty that characterised Mandela's entire life.

At Stars, we have worked with many exceptional local South African organisations over the years. 

We asked a few of them to pick a favourite quote or inspirational thought from the many wise words shared by the man they called 'Madiba', telling us how those words - and the man who said them - inspire their work today.

Be part of #MandelaDay and tweet us @StarsFdn to tell us your favourite quote or how he has inspired you to serve. 

The Shine Centre

Maurita Weissenberg, Founder and Executive Director of The Shine Centre, chose to remember Mandela with this simple but powerful thought:

"Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world."

Maurita said, "We learn that world changers are individuals who take their stand on a matter despite the flow of society. But world changers are also those, both young and old, who persist through hardships with a quiet, iron will and strong determination. At The Shine Centre we see this in the eyes of the children on our literacy programme. As young as they are, they understand that learning to read and write is fundamental to their education and their futures. We recognise and unlock the potential of each Shine child to create change in his or her own little world."


For Joy Olivier, Director and co-founder of IkamvaYouth, the choice was easy. She picked a quote that she loves and that is a constant inspiration for the work that she does helping young people achieve in education, against the often very poor odds:

"Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another."

Joy said, "This quote captures the ethos of our model: hard work can get you places, and where you come from does not have to determine where you're going."

IkamvaYouth received an Impact Award in the Education category in 2013. Joy also spoke of the influence of Mandela in her acceptance speech, which was given just after his death in early December 2013:

"It is sad to be so far away from home as we mourn South Africa's greatest change maker; former president Nelson Mandela. We're so fortunate to be living in this time: we have lived to see incredible changes; like the peaceful transition to a democratic South Africa; and yet there is still so much to do. We know that positive change is possible, and we know that the way to achieve the ideals Mandela strove for - of equality, justice and peace - is through doing all we can to care for the world's children.  Mandela said, "there can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats it's children."

IkamvaYouth's matriculation results have far-exceeded national averages annually since 2005. Recently, the percentage of young people at IkamvaYouth achieving Bachelor passes reached the same level as those at the 'least poor' (according to the rating) quintile 5 schools. Both these facts, and many others, demonstrate that IkamvaYouth’s work embodies Mandela’s vision of putting South Africa’s children first for the success of the country.

South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP)

One of SAEP's newest staff members and Assistant Coordinator of the Arts Programme, Sibonela Nongcula, also chose a Mandela quote. From this she takes inspiration to inspire others who are from a similar background:

"A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of."

Sibonela said, "I might not be working in my own community but the challenges are identical. And it brings me great joy and satisfaction to know that I am giving back and doing my part in shaping these communities towards the dream that I have."

Read more on how Mandela inspired SAEP students to succeed.