Maverick Citizen


On Mandela Day, residents of Missionvale ask for business and work rather than donations

On Mandela Day, residents of Missionvale ask for business and work rather than donations
Local ballroom dancers give attendees at the Missionvale business expo a taste of their talent on Mandela Day, 18 July 2023. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

At the Missionvale Care Centre in the heart of one of Nelson Mandela Bay’s poorest areas, the aim of this Mandela Day was not to receive donations, but to showcase the talents of local entrepreneurs and distribute the CVs of those who want to work.

Holding a Mandela Day with a difference, the people of Missionvale came to the Missionvale Care Centre on Tuesday to show off their skills and share their CVs to show that they are ready to work.

The centre’s Linda van Oudheusden said it was their first business expo and they were very proud of the event.


A Missionvale resident displays baked goods on sale at the business expo on Mandela Day, 18 July 2023. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

Everyone who wished to take part was given something to do, from children welcoming guests in the parking lot to young men offering to carry bags and boxes. Models showing off the clothes made by local designers and seamstresses received standing ovations from the audience.

Repeating the old saying that if you give a man a fish, he has food for a day, but if you teach him to fish, he will have food forever, centre manager Sabrina Kala said they were officially declaring that it was time for “fishing lessons”.

“This is when I start to love my job very much,” she said. 

missionvale veggies

Vegetables grown in the Missionvale Care Centre’s garden were on sale. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

missionvale craft

Craft and needlework products produced by Missionvale residents were on sale. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

The centre showcased local businesses, including craft and fashion initiatives, but also had a stack of CVs of young people looking for work.

Normoyle Primary School, which is based at the centre, showed off the talents of their children, as did the women from the Missionvale Fitness Club. The centre also has a large community garden, where keen gardeners were selling their produce.

missionvale steel band

The steel band from the Normoyle Primary School in action. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)


The men’s support group from Missionvale Care Centre perform a song. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

Lucky Ngamlana, who facilitates the youth empowerment programme at the centre, said their main focus was to uplift the community.

The centre was started in 1987 by Sister Ethel Normoyle from the Little Company of Mary in Ireland. During her residence in Nelson Mandela Bay, she would tell the story of how she found herself on a hill looking out over Missionvale and was shocked by the poverty. She often described it as the moment she knew that she was “to go no further”.

She would make the 45-minute walk to Missionvale every day from her home. Eventually, she was permitted to use a tree outside someone’s house for shelter. Here, she started providing basic healthcare to residents. 

The first building of what was to become the Missionvale Care Centre was constructed in 1988. Normoyle, a beloved resident of Nelson Mandela Bay, died in August 2021.

The centre has its own primary school and nutrition programme, an animal health clinic, a youth skills development programme and a community health centre. The centre also hosts support groups for men and women, a craft group and a fitness group.

Hundreds of elderly people walk up to 30km a day for their daily meal at the centre. DM


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