Staff with Heart
Joseph Mnensa (36) holds a black belt in Taekwon-Do, Akido, Hapkido & Yojindo. He’s represented South Africa in international Taekwondo World Championships held in Russia (2009) and Bulgaria (2015). And later this year he’ll be jetting off to Miami, USA to represent South Africa at the International Sport Kickboxing Association World Championships. Joseph is also an Old Mutual employee and a Staff Community Builder.
Old Mutual employee, community volunteer and international instructor, Joseph Mnensa (centre) coaches Taekwon-Do at Centre Point Dojang, Kensington, Cape Town.
As a company that holds social responsibility integral to it’s core commitments, Old Mutual encourages employee engagement in community upliftment through a number of staff volunteer programmes. The Staff Community Builder programme supports staff who give their personal time towards community development projects, which is why we find ourselves tonight at the Centre Point Dojang in Kensington, Cape Town. Not only is Joseph a hotshot Taekwon-do dude, but he also has a heart for giving back to his community.
Joseph currently teaches Taekwon-do for two hours after work, four days a week, which is about 30 hours a month of community volunteering. The dojang, which Joseph set up in 2014, is located in an under-resourced area of Cape Town where many of the students are orphans, have very little family support, or come from low-income homes and are unable to take part in regular physical activity programmes.
Because of Joseph’s community volunteer work and the Staff Community Builder programme, the Old Mutual Foundation funded the Centre Point Dojang R20 000 (2015) and R15 000 (2016), which was used to purchase practice mats, protective headwear, gloves, footwear and allowed participation for the children in provincial tournaments. It’s great to be here at this evening’s practice session, watching Joseph in action with the kids and seeing firsthand the difference the funding has made.
Joseph is a strict teacher. There’s no talking allowed during the practice and one errant student breaks the rule and is instructed to do ten push-ups on the spot. “This is not just a sport,” Joseph explains, “it’s a discipline. Students must learn respect, integrity, courtesy, manners, humility.”
One of the parents Andelucia Chambers (35) is also watching the evening’s practice session with us. She has two boys who’ve recently started attending the Centre Point Dojang and participated in their first interprovincial tournament. “I’m such a proud mom,” Andelucia says, “both my boys came back with medals!” Later, when I ask if she’s noticed a change in her boys since they’ve started attending, she comments that they’ve become more respectful at home.
The Old Mutual Staff Community Builder programme has been running for over twenty years and is regarded as one of the most successful corporate employee engagement programmes in the country. In 2015, the Old Mutual Foundation invested R6,6 million in 345 grassroots social projects in South Africa, such as Joseph’s, where we support our staff in caring for their communities.
And we’re off!
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