Through a collaboration with major US media player ESSENCE Communications and LEVERAGE Africa, a South African special projects management company, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust takes up an inaugural position at the 2015 ESSENCE Festival for a US-based fundraising and awareness drive tagged as ‘Benefiting the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital’ (BNMCH). (*BNMCH is also used as a donation reference. We chatted to Nothando from LEVARAGE Africa about this initiative. Check out the interview below:
- Please tell us more about the Essence Festival 2015 and your involvement?
The ESSENCE Festival is one of the major festival attractions on the American calendar of summer events. Now in its 21st year of being staged, the Festival takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. The ESSENCE Fest is a highly influential gathering that attracts an ever-increasing audience, mostly African-American.
The audience attends to take in Festival programming that is packed with cultural, entertainment, empowerment, and community-focused activities. Although the attendance at this year’s #BRINGTHELOVE event is expected to surpass half a million attendees, however, the #ESSENCEFEST, being part of a media conglomerate, reaches an audience of more that 3 billion through a variety of related outlets, PR strategies and partnerships.
We were privileged that the NMCHT concurred with the idea for us as LEVERAGE Africa to initiate and facilitate this US-based awareness and fundraising campaign. This paved the way for great teamwork with the NMCH Trust team to establish, broker and coordinate the three-way collaboration whereby ESSENCE selected the Nelson Mandela Hospital Trust to participate in the designated ‘Community Corner’, along with several other non-profit and community-based organisations. The ‘Community Corner’ is a special exhibition area at the Festival that ESSENCE has allocated in support of the non-profits to raise awareness and funds for their respective causes.
- Please tell us what the LEVERAGE team aims to achieve at this year’s festival?
Overall LEVERAGE Africa seeks to support the NMCH Trust’s fundraising campaign that will lead to completion and equipping of the Hospital. With the platform availed by ESSENCE we intend to make the Festival audience aware (and the larger American public) that the specialised hospital is highly needed, as conceived by uTata Madiba and developed by his dedicated teams, in order to provide specialised and holistic care for very special people: children. Further that in addition to awareness and moral support, we want to appeal to them to also support the NMCH monetarily (via donations) so that the idea becomes a reality and a living legacy that helps children to thrive and live their dreams.
- What are you most excited about with regards to the presence of the Benefiting The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital at the community corner?
ESSENCE having said so, and we are also excited that it (ESSENCE) has warmly welcomed this first NMCH Trust participation at the 2015 ESSENCE Festival for Benefitting the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (BNMCH). The work at the corner will be our main focus, and we hope to clock in many feet, capture interested minds and keep the need for support ringing for the campaign towards completion of the NMCH.
We are excited at the prospect of helping the NMCH to gain many friends for the institutional ‘family’. On the leisure side, the festival offers such a wide range of activities, naturally there is bound to be something that will catch our eye.
- What can we expect from Our Community Corner?
We have brought along promotional materials to help convey our purpose and tell the story of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, including the amazing and real progress being made on the construction site of the hospital underway – it is becoming a reality and we want to get that out as much as possible.
Perhaps with unfolding events that leave ripples among people, a bit of reaching out from our ‘corner’ with gestures of hope might go some way placate the sense of siege among communities.
- What other activities are going to be happening at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust corner?
The awareness and fundraiser is a conduit towards realising Mandela’s Wish for Children. And for us, the core of the fund drive activity springs from the ‘67-Minutes for Mandela’. We hope to infuse the message that, when they #BRINGTHELOVE, their support at the Festival towards the BNMCH campaign, the American publics will thus be contributing to the Mandela legacy for the wellbeing of children, who are leaders and citizens of tomorrow.
At the conclusion of the #ESSENCEFEST, we will have made a start in the US-based campaign. While there, we will also be on the lookout for opportunities to augment additional ideas to better position the campaign, should the need to sustain and grow it be identified.
- How can people donate towards NMCH?
Donations can be made during and after the Festival by visiting:
Add Reference: BNMCHShowcase
King Baudouin Foundation US administers all funds raised for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust directly to the organisation
For more information, visit