It is with great sorrow that SOS Children’s Villages learns of the death of one our greatest supporters and friends, Nelson Mandela – father of modern South Africa, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and global icon of freedom and human rights.
During the opening ceremony of the SOS Children's Village Cape Town © SOS Archives
‘Nelson Mandela was a man who taught us the value of forgiveness’, said SOS Children’s Villages President Siddhartha Kaul. ‘SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa experienced his affection and love for children on numerous occasions and we join everyone in prayers for Madiba’.
SOS Children’s Villages is honoured that Mr Mandela was a supporter of our organisation in South Africa and the world. The dedication of the Cape Town Children’s Village on 25 May 1996 was an outstanding event for the organisation because of the presence of Mr Mandela, then president of South Africa. During his speech at the opening ceremony he said, ‘I am not a good orator, but people believe in what I say. Please continue to help our children in need through your beautiful work of SOS Children´s Villages”.
At that time, Mr Mandela said that the nurturing approach in SOS Children’s Villages reflected the vision and ideals of the South Africa he was building. He said, ‘It is my hope that within this community a culture of understanding, acceptance and love can be nurtured. Let this Children’s Village be an example of tolerance and reconciliation so that we, as adults can learn from these children.’
SOS Children’s Villages Honorary President Helmut Kutin commented, ‘His life, his persistence, his suffering for many years in prison speak much louder than all beautiful words. He never showed hatred or retribution for his long period of suffering, but promoted humanity, peace and acceptance.‘
Nelson Mandela and Helmut Kutin during the opening ceremony of CV Cape Town, 1995 © SOS Archives
Madiba, as Mr Mandela was respectfully called by many, will remain an unforgotten inspiration and role model to the children of South African SOS Children’s Villages, whom he once addressed directly as ‘the future of South Africa. The hope of our rainbow nation.’