Each year, software quality assurance firm iLAB celebrates the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela on his birthday by taking steps to improve the lives of those in need across the globe. This year, the international team of software testers engaged in the “iCAN Make a Difference” drive and collected thousands of food items for Meals on Wheels in South Africa and Indianapolis’ Glendale Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church food bank.
“As a company founded in South Africa in the late nineties, we were only able to exist because the structures of apartheid were overthrown, and opportunity made possible for all,” said iLAB CEO Jethro Lloyd. “But how many South Africans and how many Americans still go to bed hungry every night even in this era of plenty? This year, we wanted to take our own steps to distribute resources where we know they are desperately needed, especially since #ActionAgainstPoverty was the global theme for Nelson Mandela Day.”
With the continued support of community partners like iLAB, Sam Chetty has been organizing Meals on Wheel’s efforts to improve daily life for the people of South Africa. A native South African who grew up under apartheid, Chetty is optimistic about his homeland’s future given how much change has happened in a short time. “One of our main missions now is to build kitchens and expand education in rural areas of Africa where millions suffer hunger every day,” Chetty said. “The oppressive regime has ended, but it doesn’t mean the gap automatically closed for everyone at the same time.”
iLAB’s teams in Cape Town and Johannesburg collected over 600 cans of food to support this work. Representatives also participated in a Nelson Mandela Day cook-a-thon in partnership with Meals on Wheels in Johannesburg on July 18, while others volunteered to prepare and deliver cooked meals to those in need of a warm meal this winter.
When he learned iLAB’s Indianapolis team would also be collecting food, Chetty connected the Hoosiers with the Glendale SDA Church food bank to make a relevant local donation. “What makes our organization unique is anyone of any income can visit and get what they need once a month,” said Judy Wise, the food bank’s director. “It isn’t up to us to tell you whether or not you need the help. We are just here to serve.”
Both Chetty and Wise agree that the work of feeding the hungry is about more than just sustaining their physical lives. “Apartheid worked by separating certain groups from education and opportunity, by literally creating and enforcing poverty,” Chetty said. “When children cannot eat, they cannot learn. When they are trying to get schooling out in the bushes and trees, they cannot learn. This is the first step toward building everyone a bridge to the new South Africa.” In Indianapolis, Wise said it’s also about helping people see past their momentary circumstances to what potential exists for them. “People can’t hear your message if they’re hungry,” she said. “We want to meet them where they are in their need, then take that opportunity to lift them up.”
Nelson Mandela Day occurs every year on the icon’s birthday, July 18. 2018 marks 100 years since Mandela’s birth, and sets the stage for another century in which we can continue to follow his example and act toward a world free of systemic inequality. “iLAB will continue to work with organizations like Meals on Wheels and Elephants Rhinos People to address the daily needs of South Africans,” Lloyd promised. “We’re also expanding our global efforts to educate the IT workforce and connect individuals with careers.” To learn more, visit www.ilabquality.com
iLAB is the industry leader in software quality assurance testing, training, and consulting. Founded in 1999, the company grew up along with the Internet, and has tested vital software in every industry, for both the public and private sectors. The company’s training offerings have provided thousands of individuals worldwide with career opportunity and growth.