The drive to help those at the New Jerusalem Children’s Home

Sanette van der Merwe and Reuben Xaba (white T-shirts) with children from the Moputa Secondary School after volunteering at the New Jerusalem Children's Home. Photo: Robyn Kirk


Although the children Sanette van der Merwe teaches are themselves underprivileged, the children and their teachers still found the drive to help others this Mandela Day.

“Everyone can give back. No matter how rich or poor, old or young… we all have something to give to others,” said Van der Merwe.

She is a teacher for Learning Alive, a non-profit organisation which provides supplementary education to underprivileged children in Johannesburg.

Photo: Robyn Kirk
Sanette van der Merwe stands in front of the artwork that she and her schoolchildren created at New Jerusalem Children’s Home.

For Mandela Day, Van der Merwe and her fellow Learning Alive teacher, Reuben Xaba decided to bring the Grade 9 and 10 children from Moputa Secondary School that they teach to spend 67 minutes at the New Jerusalem Children’s Home in Midrand.

New Jerusalem is a residence for abused, abandoned or orphaned children which was started in 2000. It provides a home for about 80 children.

“We’ve been here since 11 am [the morning of Mandela Day].”

She, Xaba and their schoolchildren spent the day painting the newly-built boy’s hostels at New Jerusalem, providing the home’s children with lunch and even had the time to paint a special artwork on a wall on the property.

“Myself, Reuben, the Moputa kids and also the kids here [at New Jerusalem] all created the artwork together. We painted the South African flag, and included a quote from Mandela which reads: ‘It is in your hands to make a difference.’

“We chose that quote because what I want for this wall is for all the children who pass by it to constantly be reminded that anyone has the power to change their own future, and that [these children] are in control of their fate.”

Photo: Robyn Kirk
Sanette van der Merwe (white T-shirt) stands with the children she teaches after a full day of helping the New Jerusalem Children’s Home.

Van der Merwe was amazed at how many community members came out on the day. “I wish every day could see as much compassion and thoughtfulness among South Africans. [Learning Alive] will definitely be back next year!”

Anna Mojapelo, chief executive officer of New Jerusalem, was overwhelmed with the support that this year’s Mandela Day brought the orphanage.

“Today was a truly beautiful day. Companies and people came here in the spirit of Ubuntu with gifts of food, and their volunteers fixed broken things and painted the new boy’s hostel which will hopefully be completed in August,” said Mojapelo.



New Jerusalem relies on your donations in order to continue its work. The new boy’s hostel is still in need of paint, cutlery, wardrobes and stacked beds. If you are interested in helping, find out how to do so on their donations page

Robyn Kirk

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