19 July 2018

UN Staffers Honor Memory of Mandela with Community Garden Volunteer Day

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, over 100 UN volunteers in New York commemorated the day through various community service programs around the city. One such volunteer activity took place in Harlem, a neighborhood Nelson Mandela visited a number of times, where UN volunteers partnered with the New York City Mayor’s Office and Harlem Grown, an organization that provides healthy, affordable food alternatives to the Harlem area. UN staff volunteered their time to help maintain the community gardens; volunteers pulled weeds, watered vegetables and fruits, and planted seeds. They also helped clear out trash and organize gardening facilities alongside the young Harlem Grown staff. 

Unbeknownst to many, Mr. Mandela spent a great deal of time gardening. During much of his time spent in prison he was an active gardener, and mentioned it was through gardening that he was able to hold on to any semblance of freedom while imprisoned. In Harlem, finding healthy, affordable food is often a daunting challenge. There are a multitude of cheap, fast-food chains that are much more accessible to the community but which, inevitably, lead to unhealthy eating habits and health problems. Harlem Grown works to service the Harlem community at large through supplying affordable healthy food and free meals for children, as well as providing paid jobs and health care for their young employees. The community gardening event and the numerous volunteers that commemorated Mandela Day answered Nelson Mandela’s call to, “Take action, inspire change.”

Mandela was a revolutionary human rights advocate, who dedicated his life to serving communities across the globe. He believed that, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we
have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Every year on Mandela Day citizens are encouraged to impact
their communities through charitable work in any facet they can to honor the life of a man who fought for human rights in South Africa and around the world.

More information regarding the event can be found here:
https://www.un.org/pga/72/2018/07/19/mandela-international-day-public-service-activity/.