Honouring Nelson Mandela
- Sushma Lobo

London, Aug 22 (BAN): When you are asked to sign a hand written message in the House of Commons book of tribute to the former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela what an honour it becomes to be one amongst the prominent people across the world to sign a personal message to go down in history.

At a recent cultural evening ‘Nrutyotsav’, organised by Sarjan Nartan Academy hosted in the Great Hall in Harrow it was yet another honourable moment for Jashu Vekaria MBE and a proud surprise moment for Suryakant Jadva. Nic Careem, founder of The Blue Sky Village Foundation and Nelson Mandela Book Charity Balls organiser invited both Jashu and Suryakant to write a message in ‘The House of Commons Book of Tribute Messages to Nelson Mandela’.

The book has more than 700 handwritten messages from some of the most prominent people in the world, including President Barack Obama, Kofi Annan, British Prime Ministers and hundreds of leading International Business and Community Leaders as well as sports, music and film stars. David Beckham, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Richard Branson, Maya Angelou, Russell Crowe, Chris Rock, Kylie Minogue, Will Smith are amongst the host of stars who have written meaningful messages in the book collected by Nic. The book will be edited by Nic’s friend Janis Kearney, the former White House Diarist to President Bill Clinton, published annually and will be made available globally. The proceeds from sales in each country will go towards fighting Child Poverty in that country. The book is a significant tool to continue Nelson Mandela’s mission to end child poverty and racial intolerance. Four charity balls organised by The Blue Sky Village Foundation will be held around the world with the first being in New Delhi, India next year February and all monies raised from the ball will be shared between children’s causes in the countries where the balls are held as well as South African children’s causes.

The renowned Neha Patel, Artistic Director of Sarjan Nartan Academy who was recently endorsed as an exceptional promising artist in the field of Indian Dances by the Arts Council of England and a shortlisted nominee for the National Indian Arts Award hosted a choreographed evening with her students, showcasing their educational journey of dance promoting progressive creative dance. A proud Academy with over 300 students training over two countries in the UK and India; She said “our aim is not only to educate, but to bring well-being and happiness through movement and music and we hope in turn this contributes to the development of the student’s personalities, confdence and social interactions”.
With a guest list of distinguished guest Duwayne Brooks OBE, Trupti Patel, Dimps Sanghani, Jashu Vekaria MBE and Suryakant Jadva, amongst others it was a memorable event.

Nic at the event said “When I first created the book in 1999, it was designed to celebrate the life of a great human being in South Africa. The book was always supposed to be an opportunity to gather together talented and powerful people to bring about the kind of world that Nelson Mandela wanted to see – an end to child poverty and racial intolerance, and the alleviation of child poverty.

The idea is to include not only powerful people, but unsung heroes, like Suryakant, who’s raised funds for children in Africa, and we surprised him by asking him to sign and leave a message in the book.We want to empower the poor, not power over the poor. That is what Charity and Aid does”.

British Asia News asked Suryakant how he felt about this honourable moment and he said “I am an ordinary person giving something back to the community god has given me enough for two chapattis and sandwich. When we put a smile on that unfortunate child by giving them education, food, a roof, hope, faith a better future that’s what fills my heart and what I will take to heaven with me”.

Suryakant is definitely an unsung hero; he works with numerous charities and helped open a school in 2006 in Manali at the foothills of the Himalayas for poor children from the age of 4 and completely transforms their lives with genuine love and education which Nic has visited,

Nic added “We want to change the lives of children from ‘Earning to Learning’ – that’s the slogan we have. These children have the means, but not the ability to fulfil their dreams and we will help to do that along with our partners in India.”

Andrew Motion, has also inscribed in the book a special tribute poem which he wrote specially for the book.On July 18th 2014, celebrated as Mandela Day, Nic organised the first Nelson Mandela Remembrance Concert with some of the world’s top musicians and dancers performing, to remember a 20th Century Hero at London’s Roundhouse.
The aim of the Foundation is to raise the funds to help set up education projects for the poorest children.“I’m lucky to be able to do what I do for the love of it. I don’t do this to receive any awards or accolades. We all have the ability to enjoy the experience, get some value out of helping somebody improve and change their lives,” concluded Nic.

British Asia News had an exclusive interview with Jashu Vekaria when she opened her letter which invited her to sign the book she said “this is a legacy I am shocked that I have been chosen to write in this, I want to think carefully about what to write as it will go down in history. It is pretty impressive, I thought that I got my MBE and that would be the end of it, and I thought I reached the highest point and this is an absolute shock, I keep myself to myself I go work and come home I don’t know what I’ve done to show someone different to have been nominated. I’m a bit overwhelmed that people have noticed and feel that I am making a difference”. Jashu is a Deputy Head Teacher at Uxendon Manor School but over weekends she heads up school at a community centre (a free school for the community children) where besides normal school subjects she teaches children non-violence and anti-drugs. By dedicating her weekends teaching she has managed to keep thousands of children off bad habits.
She always says. “Waking up each Saturday for yet another day of teaching can be exhausting. But once I see the kids and start teaching, that tiredness simply disappears and it’s just such a joy! It’s a real honour to be able to serve the community in this way".


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Title : Honouring Nelson Mandela

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  • Izzy, London
    Fri, Aug 23 2019

    Good to hear there are people and organisations continuing the good work of Nelson Mandela we need more people like this in the world.

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