Staff gives their time to Bertrams

KEEN staff members at the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) did more than their 67 minutes of community work on Nelson Mandela Day.

They began a week earlier, at Bertrams Primary School in Ellis Park. On Monday, 12 July they were at the inner city school, cleaning and rearranging the grounds.

Nelson Mandela Day is observed internationally on 18 July. On this day, people are encouraged to spend 67 minutes doing something for others, in recognition of the 67 years of his life Madiba devoted to serving humanity.

"They were busy giving the grounds a much-needed facelift," said Khanyi Twala, the school’s principal. "On Friday, 16 July the JDA staff came to our school again to work on the grounds. They planted flowers and vegetation, and also rearranged the grounds to they know exactly which plants grow where."

The agency worked with Petra de Nobriega, the owner of Enviro-Sculpt Landscapes, on the project. She helped with landscaping and gave her services free of charge.

A mosaic was also made for the school. The black and white mosaic of Madiba was made by the JDA team under the guidance of the art consultant Andrew Lindsay, who owns The Spaza Shop Art Gallery.

It will be displayed in the playground of the school at an unconfirmed date. It will join another Madiba-inspired work at the school, again made by JDA staff. It's in Your Hands, the title of the first mosaic mural, was unveiled on 3 November 2009.

It is one of many public artworks in the area developed by the JDA. Among them are the cows in Transport Square and another mosaic, depicting a scene from the Battle of Ellis Park, sparked by the 1922 Miners’ Strike. It is on the wall of the last house on Bertrams Road.

Bertrams Primary School shares a birthday with the former president. The school was opened on 18 July 1918, the same day Mandela was born in Eastern Cape, and its first learners filled its classrooms a few days later.

The JDA has worked on a number of developments in the Greater Ellis Park area in recent years, including revamping Bertrams Park. The once run-down park is now fully equipped with swings, a five-a-side soccer pitch, basketball courts and a ground chess board. There are and rubber surfaces beneath and around all play equipment, making it safer for children.

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