When I look back on Mandela Day at Sasfin my heart swells with gratitude. We put out a clarion call to all our Sasfin staff to get involved on Mandela Day and the response was overwhelming. People from every department came together and seeing that heightened awareness and participation to honour the legacy of Madiba was incredible.
This year we wanted to do something different, so we partnered with SA Harvest, an incredible NGO with a mission to end hunger. We created Restaurant 67, a special restaurant on the rooftop of our Sandton headquarters, to honour SA Harvest and their beneficiaries who so selflessly give back to our communities every single day.
Walking through Sasfin on Mandela Day, the buzz was audible. From 8am staff piled into rooms set up with everything needed to decorate Restaurant 67. From table runners, to signs, beaded serviette holders and welcome signs, Sasfin staff spent the morning prepping for our guests of honour.
While some decorated others got ready to act as the welcome committee. Armed with welcome signs and whistles they gathered on the steps of the Sasfin building singing and dancing our guests inside.
Once inside Restaurant 67, our guests were served by more Sasfin Staff who even took the stage to provide some post-lunch entertainment in the form of song and dance.
It was my honour to welcome our guests and share some words from our CEO Michael Sassoon who said that the biggest lesson he’s learnt from Madiba was that “at moments of real challenge, one should retain hope and look for opportunities to uplift each other.”
I was then privileged to introduce Alan Browde, a true change-maker who was crazy enough to think that he and his team could change the world and then go about doing just that. His speech left me with chills as he shared a moment with Nelson Mandela that changed his life and impacted his decision to start SA Harvest. At the home of his father, Mandela pulled him aside and said, “you, my boy have got to get back to this country. You need to become part of the solution… I want you to give back in whatever way you can”.
I want you to give back in whatever way you can.
Alan then shared the incredible work SA Harvest is doing with their beneficiaries by providing thousands of nutritious meals to people every single day. Since they started in 2019 they have rescued 13.4 million kg of food and delivered 44.24 million meals with the help of their over 200 beneficiaries. The most important thing Alan said is “to raise the consciousness of the country, especially of the middle class, as to what is happening.”
Chatting with the various beneficiaries, it was clear what a passion each one of them has for their communities and for making a difference. It is impossible not to feel awed by what they do every day. As Linda Fröhlich put it, “they feel the pain of everyone they serve, and this sets them apart from you and me. They feel this pain and act on it making an active difference. They recognise a problem in our society, and they are doing something about it.”
They recognise a problem in our society, and they are doing something about it.
The afternoon ended with an emotional rendition of the South African national anthem and more song and dance.
While the day was incredible it’s important to remember that awareness is not enough, we all need to do something. We need to be inspired by the Alan Browde’s of the world and go out and be the change.
Thank you to SA Harvest and your incredible beneficiaries for allowing us to learn from you and celebrate you. Thank you to each Sasfin staff member who came together on this day and truly brought our purpose statement to life. A day that as Jillian Johnson who’s been with Sasfin for 35 years said, “brings the whole bank together”. And together we can make a difference as we contribute to society and go beyond!