Armed Forces Day leaves legacy for elderly citizens

While a show of military might characterised Armed Forces Day on February 21, a legacy project has revealed its softer side in caring for the less fortunate residents of Nelson Mandela Bay.

The national day, which was held in Port Elizabeth this year, saw members of the South African National Defence Force also setting aside time earlier in the week to get involved with some local community initiatives as part of the official legacy project.

Local business – headed by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber – joined the battle for the Bay by raising R250 000 towards the SANDF’s upliftment efforts.

One of the projects that has already benefited from the collective drive is Ekuphumleni Home for the Aged in Zwide, which was badly damaged by a fire that claimed the lives of three residents in November.

The SANDF provided most of the labour for the refurbishment of the home, while the municipality assisted with fire safety training as well as the beautification of the gardens. The department of social development also made donations to the project.

In the near future, the home will enjoy further infrastructure upgrades and other improvements to amenities that will make life a little bit better for the resident senior citizens.

“This was a fantastic example of public/private collaboration between the Business Chamber, the municipality and the SANDF to make the lives of the residents of Ekuphumleni a little bit more comfortable,” said Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler.

Hustler said the knock-on effect of Armed Forces Day on the economy of the city was huge. Rental car agencies and accommodation establishments reported that they were close to capacity or fully booked over the weekend, with many of the armed forces delegations already descending onto our city’s shores from mid-January in anticipation of the event.

“The culmination on Sunday reminded us of a festive Opening of the Season atmosphere in the Bay and our beachfront businesses were buzzing. We are grateful that we could give back in some way as business with the Armed Forces Day Legacy Project,” said Hustler.

Other municipality-owned homes that will benefit from the funds are Bethelsdorp and Gelvan Park Home for the Aged. Continuous support, with skills training for the staff, on behalf of organised business will take place throughout the year.

The biggest business contributor to the legacy project was Port Elizabeth International Airport.

“Improving the lives of the communities in our region is close to our heart as an airport and that was why we wanted to get involved to elevate the quality of lives of the elderly in the metro,” said acting airport manager Greg Small.

Other contributing Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber member companies included Jeffares and Green, AfriCoast Consulting Engineers, Afrisec Strategic Solutions and Srk Consulting.