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Celebrating Mandela Day in Chicago

On Mandela Day, Wednesday, July 18, the Obama Foundation and The Honeycomb Project team up on the shores of Lake Michigan for a sunset beach clean up. We measure beach health, clear the boardwalk, collect garbage, and make a positive impact at Rainbow in t

“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to helping others without expecting anything in return.” —Nelson Mandela

This past Wednesday, people all over the world came together to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. In Johannesburg, that included the 200 emerging African leaders we brought together as part of our Leaders: Africa convening to exchange ideas on how to create positive change in their communities.

During the Leaders: Africa gathering, participants and President Obama commemorated Mandela Day by taking part in a service project to honor Mandela's life and legacy to make the world a better place. They went to the Far North Secondary School in Johannesburg where they painted murals, built benches for students, cleaned windows and beautified the grounds.

And we honored Mandela’s legacy right here in Chicago, too.

A man with a light medium skin tone sitting in a wheelchair in front of a group of people with various skin tones and ages.
A woman with a medium, warm olive skin tone with a dark grey hat, white and blue shirt, short blue swim trunks, purple sandles, blue gloves, and a trash bag, picking up trash with kids on the sand of a beach.

We teamed up with the Honeycomb Project and sixty of our neighbors for a sunset beach clean up on the shores of Lake Michigan.

A group of people with various skin tones cleaning a beach with brooms and shovels.
A woman with light neutral skin, a brown ponytail wearing glasses, a grey shirt and blue jeans kneeling holding a bag open for a little girl with light neutral skin tone and light brown hair with a yellow bow, grey shirt and yellow shorts on a beach

We headed to Rainbow Beach to measure beach health, clear the boardwalk, collect garbage, and make a positive impact in our own neighborhood. It was a special day that reminded us of the important relationship between leadership and service.

If you live in Chicago and are interested in future volunteering opportunities, you can sign up for our list here.

And you can see how people from across the country and around the world are doing their part to make the world a better place to honor Mandela’s legacy below.

"I founded Kusimudzana, a local association which has the aim to empower girls and young women, especially survivors of gender based violence. I am also employed at Terre Des Hommes Schweiz, a Swiss NGO which works in the fields of GBV and Youth Empowerment in Mozambique. I am the National Officer for Psycho social support and Youth Empowerment and I really love my work because its my passion to contribute to a better world." —Drucila M., Mozambique

"Towards making the world less violent and less unequal, I’ve volunteered with several social justice organizations over the years. Presently, I’m organizing with Sunrise Movement, a youth led climate justice organization based in the United States. Our main focus is making climate change an urgent priority for our politicians and ending the reign of fossil fuel money in our politics." —Felton P., Orlando, FL

"I'm working on a project that leverages the power of music to draw attention to some of the challenges that still face society in South Africa and elsewhere. The project aims to help formerly incarcerated people transition more successfully to their home communities once they're released by counteracting bias against those who have been caught in the epidemic of incarceration." —Justin K., Greeley, CO