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Staying Alive in Kimberley


In the Northern Cape, driving 400km is just like popping around the corner. This seems to be the general attitude of the folk living in Kimberley where we’ve arrived this afternooon. Distance isn’t a problem and ‘popping in’ to see someone is the norm. So our visit from Cape Town, via Bloemfontein and Botshabelo, is very much appreciated by Old Mutual Area Manager Jannie Jacobs (below) and St John Centre Manager, Johan Maloney.

We’re at the St John Centre, Kimberley because Jannie Jacobs (above) is a Staff Community Builder who volunteers his time at this organisation. As a company that holds social responsibility integral to it’s core commitments, Old Mutual encourages employees to volunteer through a number of different programmes. One of the most popular programmes is the Staff Community Builder which supports staff who give their personal time towards community development projects with three years of financial funding.

Johan Maloney, Centre Manager, St John, Kimberley explains that the funding provided by the Old Mutual Foundation as a result of Jannie’s personal volunteer work enabled the St John Centre to run outreaches to 22 schools training over 500 pupils in the “Save a Life” course which covers CPR, basic first aid and medical conditions such as asthma and allergies.

So for this afternoon’s #Journey2 road trip visit, the centre has kindly arranged ten Grade 9 pupils from Emmanuel High School to join us for a training session. It’s a great opportunity to chat with Jannie who is clearly passionate about community service. He volunteers on the St John’s board and bring his business experience into the organisation to manage their marketing and fundraising activities. As a senior manager in the region he says, “You can’t expect your staff to get involved in community projects, if you yourself aren’t leading by example.”

It’s because of employees such as Jannie who participate in the Old Mutual Staff Community Builder, that this programme is often regarded as one of the most successful corporate employee engagement programmes in the country. Last year, almost R6,6 million was invested in 345 grassroots community projects such as Jannie’s, around South Africa.

Later I watch the youngsters snapping on their gloves and getting up close and personal with the St John’s dummy. They’re clearly interested and absorbing all the medical stats and facts, then take it in turns to try their hand at CPR. Johan comments that after the school outreaches, the St John centre encourages the youth to continue and become a qualified St John’s First Aider for school or external events. “It helps develop their confidence and leadership,” he says and tells us about a school graduate who has moved through the St John’s ranks of emergency medical qualifications and has now become a qualified ambulance assistant.

While Mark is setting up some photographs, I remark I’ve never learnt to do CPR and he suggests to the students that they teach me. They think this is great fun and tranform from being shy youngsters into serious trainers, giving me direct instructions about what to do, how to interlock my hands and where to depress. I’m impressed by their focus and know-how, and can easily see how this training contributes to building confidence and a sense of social responsibility.

“Ek hoop die pop leef nog,” remarks Jannie Jacobs wryly about my newfound first aid skills!

As we wrap up the CPR session to head home, Mark shows the learners a funky YouTube clip of Vinnie Jones doing CPR to the beat of Staying Alive. Well, with so many well-trained CPR students in Kimberley, it must now be the safest place for anyone to stay alive – including the pop!

Check out British Heart Foundation #hardandfast

Post index:

And we’re off!
Growing green futures
For the love of reading
Paying it forward
In the heat of the moment
The road to Camdeboo
The light of one small candle
Investing for the future
The building blocks of business
A heart for horses
Mining for talent
My ability is greater than my disability
To be a nurse, you must be love
There’s no such thing as ‘the voiceless’
Mark my words
The place where the sun rises
Welcome to your future
Strengthening families
Dollops of Dreams
The Business of Farming
Staff with Heart
Rekindling Hope
Staying alive in Kimberley

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