Swim For Life Helping Nelson Mandela’s Rural Home Villages

Swim For Life Helping Nelson Mandela’s Rural Home Villages

Courtesy of Andrew Chin, South Africa.

Liberation icon, Nelson Mandela’s home communities were among the recipients of 150 “Hippo Rollers” – mobile plastic water barrels which carry 90 litres of water – to help ease their plight in the dry season.

Relatives of Mandela, who like hundreds of rural villagers still collect drinking water in buckets from rivers or streams in the dry season, were among 150 Eastern Cape families who have been donated Hippo Rollers to help ease their plight.

Neighbors 82-year-old Evelyn Nokhundu Mandela and 71-year-old Nothemba Mandela – whose home is on the piece of land in Qunu where former President Nelson Mandela spent his formative years – were elated to receive some respite from collecting water in buckets from a nearby pond. “We struggle in the dry season. Carrying buckets is hard work so this is a huge help,” said Nothemba Mandela whose home overlooks the rolling green hills and valleys described in Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. The Mandela family burial site is a few hundred meters from her home.

Swim For Rivers, which raises awareness and funds to help address South Africa’s water challenges, delivered 150 rollers to Mandela’s childhood homes of Qunu and Mqhekezweni, and nearby coastal villages of Mdumbi, Thshani, Tsweleni, Sharks Point and Mphotshotsho. Tour guide and Qunu resident Zim Gamakhulu said water supply was intermittent and insufficient:  “The taps and tanks often run dry during the dry season so mostly women and children have to walk long distances to get water in buckets, often on their heads. These rollers are making a big difference.”

71-year-old Nocingile Ndabambi from Mqhekezweni – known as Great Place, a historical royal household and grooming place for chiefs – said she walked about two km to and from a river to collect water. “We struggle and this is a big help,” she said. Ndabambi’s home is close to a rondavel where Nelson Mandela spent his teens. He shared in his book how he learned about leadership by listening to the regent king, Jongintaba Dalindyebo presiding over local community matters under a large tree near his hut.

Marathon swimmer and ice Swimmer Andrew Chin, founder of Swim For Rivers said, “For us it’s a privilege to serve. And it’s a travesty that thousands of rural families still struggle to access drinking water. This is why we help where we can.”

Photo above shows Nolusindiso Geledwana from Qunu collecting one of 150 Hippo Rollers from NPO, Swim For Rivers, to help collect drinking water from rivers in the dry season. Photo by Michael Walker.

12-year-old Amila Gamakhulu and her 9-year-old brother Camagu walking with two of the Hippo Rollers donated to families in Qunu, many of whom are related to former President Nelson Mandela who spent some of his youth in these hills, walking from his home nearby to a school on the hilltop in the distance.
82-year-old Evelyn Nokundu Mandela, a relative of former President Nelson Mandela, receives her Hippo Roller from NPO, Swim For Rivers, to help collect drinking water from a nearby pond. Photo by Michael Walker.

For more information, visit Swim For Rivers.

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Steven Munatones