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:
• Sange Child and Youth Care Centre
• Reach for A Dream Foundation
• Trucking Wellness Programme.
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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.
The Trucking Wellness Programme was launched in 1999 as an initiative of the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI). The programme is a primary healthcare delivery system dedicated to the health and wellness of those employed in the Road Freight and Logistics Industry. Over the years, Trucking Wellness has evolved into a sustainable model of primary healthcare delivery to key populations through a blend of sleek mobile Wellness Centres (Sprinters and Vito's) and 21 fixed roadside Wellness Centres. These Clinics can be found on all major trucking routes and across South Africa's borders. Since its inception, the programme has grown into providing a holistic approach to health and wellness which encompasses a wide range of client specific, easily accessible and free primary health care services.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa has partnered with Corridor Empowerment Project (CEP), the NPO appointed to manage the Trucking Wellness Programme. This partnership, stretching over a decade, focus on strengthen the Trucking Wellness Programme through increased profiling of the programme, technical input based on the lessons learned in their own Employee Wellness Programme, enhance the quality of healthcare delivered with annual CEP upskilling workshops, expanding employee wellness to their key customers and direct health information to truck drivers participating in Fleet Board Professional Driver training.
All these not only increase the value add to Daimler Trucks and Buses customers, but strengthen the services available to all stakeholders in South Africa.
For more information, view www.truckingwellness.co.za