Mercedes-Benz South Africa realised at an early stage the heavy toll that HIV/Aids could take on its most previous resource – its employees – if left unchecked. This led to the organisation being one of the first companies in South Africa to implement a comprehensive HIV/Aids Workplace Programme, in 2000.
As early as 1991, the company followed the framework set by its German mother company, Daimler AG, to prioritise HIV/Aids by instituting policies and procedures to protect infected employees from discrimination and stigmatisation.
With a string of accolades from as far back as the 2002 Global Business Coalition on HIV/Aids Award, to the most recent 2010 international Stevie Business Award, MBSA has provided a proven formula for tackling the disease from a collective and co-operative perspective, and has taken one step further on this journey by extending its support and expertise in the area to vulnerable communities.
Community Upliftment and HIV/Aids-focused projects which are funded by Mercedes-Benz South Africa are:
• Keiskamma Trust
• Sange Child and Youth Care Centre
• Reach for A Dream Foundation
• Trucking Wellness Programme.
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The aim of Keiskamma Trust, based in the Eastern Cape, is to foster hope amongst the most vulnerable communities, through practical, holistic and creative programmes and partnerships that address widespread poverty and disease.
Keiskamma Trust has a strong track record of innovative and multi-faceted community development projects that are focused on encouraging healthy individuals, families and communities.
Since 2012, Mercedes-Benz South Africa has fostered an impactful partnership with Keiskamma Trust. The focus was initially to establish a sustainable skills development and job creation project in an area where unemployment and HIV/Aids have a devastating impact on surrounding communities. This vision evolved in 2015, when MBSA began to support the Youth Development Programme by Keiskamma Trust.
The objective of the project is to empower youth and the communities in which they live with business skills, and promote the income-generating opportunities of communities in and around Hamburg in the Eastern Cape. To this end, the project focuses on increasing skills such as beading, felt-making, embroidery, ceramics and printmaking.
For more information, view www.keiskamma.org.
Founded in 2010, Sange Child and Youth Care Centre is a sanctuary for the homeless children of Mdantsane, South Africa’s second largest township, and its surrounding areas in the Eastern Cape. Mercedes-Benz South Africa has strong links to the Mdantsane region, as a large portion of the company’s labour force are drawn from this area.
MBSA aims to make a positive impact in this community through its partnership with Sange, by promoting basic education for children who grow up in an environment where crime, alcohol and drug abuse are rife.
Sange Child and Youth Care Centre aims to provide developmental welfare services to children in need of care and protection, as well as those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. In addition, the centre focuses on family preservation programmes and on providing social relief.
The sanctuary offers housing for vulnerable children from 0 – 18 years old, as well as rehabilitation and therapy for abused children, supported by professional social workers. In addition, the centre helps to place children in suitable schools and equip children with social and life skills.
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Since 1988, the Reach for a dream foundation has been assisting toddlers through to teens to combat the gravity of a serious disease by making dreams – from surprise birthday parties, shopping sprees and meeting their heroes or heroines – come true. These realised fantasies temporarily allow these children to return to their childhood and leave the pain, stress and anxiety related to their poor health behind.
Reach for a Dream Foundation offers children more magical moments, through their project “Camp Sunshine”, which Mercedes-Benz is a proud supporter of. These camps offer children a place where they can laugh and play, climb and swim, and just be a kid among other kids for a weekend. More often than not, the effect of that weekend is a whole year's worth of positive self-esteem and what will likely become a lifetime filled with special friends, self-confidence and self-respect.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa has partnered with the Siyakhana Health Trust since its inception in 2006. This project provides HIV and Aids prevention, care, treatment, support and impact mitigation to small and medium enterprises in Buffalo City and the Amatole District in the Eastern Cape.
The intention was to replicate MBSA’s globally-recognised best-practice approach to managing HIV and Aids and other key challenges in the workplace among small and medium enterprises, including suppliers and the dealer network.
The objective of the company’s commitment is to empower disadvantaged communities to become healthier, more secure and more self-sufficient, thus contributing to the stability of the economy.
For more information, view www.siyakhana.com
The programme focuses on the prevention of HIV and other chronic diseases through holistic primary health care on major routes in South Africa at 22 fixed wellness centres and on-site health screening to businesses by five Sprinter mobile clinics. These services reach out to both truck drivers and sex workers, and are delivered by Registered Nurses and Counsellors.
Corridor Empowerment manages this public-private-partnership (PPP) initiative, which is a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz South Africa, the government, and National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry
The Mercedes-Benz South Africa Workplace Wellness Programme focuses on improving the health and wellness of all employees in the road freight and logistics industry; adding value to MBSA commercial vehicle customers; and increasing awareness of the programme to all stakeholders.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa has also rolled out the Fleet Owner Workplace Wellness Programme to five of its major fleet customers.
For more information, view www.truckingwellness.co.za