Johannesburg based non-profit Witkoppen Clinic is calling on South Africans to celebrate Nelson Mandela Day a little differently this year. 

Instead of asking people to volunteer 67-minutes in-person, the clinic is encouraging a social distancing friendly approach to making a positive impact. Those who want to make a difference are being asked to donate R67 (or more) towards the clinic’s FRESH start programme, which aims to eliminate mother to child HIV transmission through medical support and education. 

17 July 2001. Nelson Mandela in Newtown at the launch of the new Mandela Bridge project. Picture: Debbie Yazbek/INDEPENDENT MEDIA

“Mandela Day is really about caring for one another. At the moment, that means keeping our distance. By donating money instead of volunteering in-person, those who want to give back to the community can do so, without endangering any lives. This is a great way to feel part of something bigger, and to make a real-world impact at a time when people around the globe are feeling helpless,” says Jean Bassett, Director at Witkoppen Clinic.

The clinic aims to raise a total of R67 000 to support new moms and babies who need access to care and treatment. A donation of R67 will provide an infant with two boxes of cereal; R670 provides five packs of burn shield to treat burns caused by paraffin stoves; R6 700 provides 15 families with a food parcel; R67 000 provides the clinic with a lifesaving monitor, able to track blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, temperature and heart rate and rhythm, for a child or mother in the emergency room. 

“Many mothers living in South Africa are unemployed, single parents who cannot afford quality healthcare or even monthly transportation to a nearby clinic. Job losses, as a result of Covid-19, have only made things more difficult. This year, we have an opportunity to come together as a community to provide support for those who need regular access to HIV care and treatment,” says Bassett. “Every donation has an impact and makes a positive difference in the lives of a mother and child in need.”

The FRESH Start programme, an initiative between Witkoppen and New York based non-profit, Gift of Hope, provides postnatal care to women and babies for 18 months after birth. Through the provision of nurses, social workers and dieticians, the programme helps HIV-positive mothers maintain their antiretroviral treatment, as well as keeping both mother and baby healthy. In the past four years, Witkoppen has had zero HIV transmission to babies.

Based in Johannesburg, Witkoppen Clinic is open from 7.30am to 4pm every weekday. The clinic provides comprehensive healthcare to almost 10 000 patients every month and offers a range of services, including HIV and TB testing, a mental health clinic, and a dentist. 

26 June 1997. Nelson Mandela fondly known as Madiba in Boksburg. Picture: Thys Dullaart/ANA Archives

Mobile clinics service patients living in Diepsloot, Msawawa, and surrounding areas, providing HIV testing to about 450 patients per day. To make a donation visit For more information, visit the clinics website at