“Together as a nation, we have the obligation to put sunshine into the hearts of our little ones. They are our precious possessions. They deserve what happiness life can offer.”
Former president Nelson Mandela
On the afternoon of 8 February 2018, my 10-year-old son was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Wilgeheuwel Hospital in Johannesburg. After undergoing an operation the previous morning to remove a burst appendix, it became clear to all concerned that the operation was not successful and his situation quickly deteriorated. Only with the intervention of highly experienced doctors and the special care and treatment of ICU personnel, for the next two and a half weeks, did he make a full recovery. Today, we have a healthy son, and life goes on as if nothing happened only a few months ago.
But what if we had no medical aid and no access to a private hospital with highly trained and dedicated medical staff?
Most South Africans don’t have medical aid and rely on state hospitals and a public healthcare system which is under pressure to deliver services to about 80% of the population. Given these circumstances, many children may not have access to the same medical care and support which saved my son’s life.
Fortunately, given the work of a dedicated group of people at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF), and the generosity of donors from around the world, children from across Southern Africa today have access to world-class paediatric healthcare services provided by a team of highly experienced medical professionals.
Founded by NMCF, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH), based in Parktown, Johannesburg, is a specialist tertiary referral facility and only the second dedicated paediatric hospital in Southern Africa. NMCH admitted its first patients in June 2017, and since then, it has treated over 1 000 children in need of surgical and life-saving interventions, including diagnostic radiological services, dialysis treatment, neurosurgery, cardiology and general paediatric surgery.
Inspired by his love for children, NMCH was built in honour of Madiba’s legacy. It was his wish that all children have access to the healthcare they need and deserve. NMCH is committed to changing lives by rendering exceptional services to all children of Southern Africa, and no child, who is appropriately referred to NMCH, is turned away regardless of socio-economic circumstances.
As a public benefit organisation, NMCH only receives operational funding from the government to treat public patients and independently fundraises to support its capital expenses. It therefore requires ongoing public support to expand and sustain its services.
I’m deeply honoured to be associated with NMCH, and as part of my participation in the 250km Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) from 20-26 October 2018 in the Northern Cape, I aim to raise R250 000 for NMCH to enable more children to benefit from the hospital.
It only requires 2 500 people to donate a minimum of R100 each to reach this target, and I’m challenging all South Africans to support this important campaign and the work of NMCH.
My fundraising campaign will run from 10 October to 27 November 2018, to coincide with Giving Tuesday, an annual global initiative aimed at encouraging social giving.