City Year South Africa was honoured yesterday to host former President Bill Clinton at a service event in Freedom Park, Soweto. President Clinton, together with our former President Nelson Mandela played an important role in the founding of City Year South Africa. Hosting a conference on Civil Society in Cape Town in 2001, Mandela extended an invitation to Clinton, who accepted and brought along a delegation from the US, which included representatives from City Year Inc. It was after this conference that dialogue started about a possible City Year in South Africa and the site was officially launched in 2005.
The event yesterday was held at the Ikusasa Lethu Youth Project, which serves the children and residents of the Freedom Park and Devland communities. Ikusasa Lethu (which means “Tomorrow is in our hands) serves three meals a day to almost 300 children and also provides home-based care to the elderly.
140 City Year South Africa Service Leaders and staff were on site from 11am preparing the project, which included repainting the outside walls of the centre, creating murals and new signage and helping to revamp the food garden, which is used to grow vegetables that are used in meals for the children.
Service began at 2:30pm with over 200 community members, centre staff and the City Year team working to transform Ikusasa Lethu.
President Clinton and his daughter Chelsea arrived at 3pm and were welcomed at the entrance by City Year’s power greeters. Both he hand his daughter were presented with City Year jackets, which they wore for the duration of the event.
President Clinton went on a tour of Ikusasa Lethu, lead by Joey Monane, the project’s director. He stopped on numerous occasions to talk to children and Service Leaders he met along the way.
After spending almost an hour interacting with all the volunteers and watching the amazingly speedy progress they were making with their work, President Clinton joined everyone for a group photo.
After his departure, City Year and the rest of the volunteers completed the remaining work, ultimately completely painting the outsides of 4 buildings, painting ten murals and a new sign, and creating 10 vegetable beds – all in just under 2 hours!
All in all an amazing and inspirational day!