by Eric Devlin

Mandela's legacy continued

Long walk to freedom aids underprivileged

Mandela's legacy continues
Long walk to freedom inspires

Former Blue Bell resident organizes screening of 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' to raise money for South African town. The legacy of Nelson Mandela helped inspire others to support a world organization with local roots.

Cinephiles and advocates for early childhood education gathered for a screening of the film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” at the UA Main Street Theater in Manayunk. Proceeds from the event benefitted Love to Langa, a US-based 501(c)3 charity that builds schools and supports education programs for orphans and other children living in poverty in South Africa.

 

The film, which stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, adapts the autobiography of the late anti-Apartheid leader and former South African president.

 

For Amy Ostroff, Love to Langa co-founder and president and former Blue Bell resident, the event — which raised $3,000 for the charity — was a tremendous success.

 

“It went great,” she said. “It went so well. We started the charity three years ago and this was our first event in Philadelphia. We’re not a cancer charity or something local with a built-in audience that went with it. We didn’t have [established] people, it was just our thing.”

 

The timing for the screening, Ostroff said, turned out to be appropriate.

 

“We’d heard about the Mandela film and thought it was perfect,” she said. “There was good press about Idris Elba, and Oscar talk, and thought it was a perfect opportunity to do an event around [the film.].”

 

Love to Langa, she said, came from an African safari trip she and her husband, Jon, took in 2008. After spending six days in the Kwazulu Natal region on safari, the couple visited Cape Town, South Africa. While most of the country was beautiful, Ostroff said the poorer, predominantly black townships in the country stayed with them after they arrived back home.

 

One of those poor townships was Langa, a former place of segregation during the Apartheid era.

 

While many black residents of Langa were forced to live there decades ago, now, she said, many choose to live there simply because it’s their home. While there are some nicer sections of Langa, most of it is “miles and miles of shacks.” During their visit, the couple visited an orphanage and promised to help support it in any way they could. 

“We didn’t have the intention of starting a charity,” she said. But she and Jon soon realized that in order to properly help the orphanage, and Langa as a whole, they needed to form a charity to properly store the funds they were collecting from donations. Love to Langa was born.

 

Since that time, the couple, who now lives in Gladwyne, continues to make yearly trips to South Africa and has partnered with the Southern Africa Sustainable Development Initiative, which, according to its website, is “a non-profit, public benefit organization based on Christian principles that develops and implements high-impact social investment projects in the disadvantaged communities of Southern Africa.”

 

Together, the two organizations work to support early childhood education by building schools and educating children.

 

Ostroff said living an ocean away makes it difficult to keep tabs on the progress in the region, so she and Jon rely on Kissmea Adams and Stuart Hendry from SASDI to oversee the work being done. She said she and Adams video chat using Skype on a regular basis so she can see first hand their money being put to good use.

 

Love to Langa has grown beyond the borders of the town where it gets its name, helping many different poorer areas in and around Cape Town. Meanwhile, Ostroff said, the charity continues to try to find new ways to generate donations, like a recent photography workshop and the film screening.

 

“We were thrilled with the response from those who wanted to see the film in advance,” she said. “We were thrilled to provide the opportunity and introduce Love to Langa.”

 

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