Thursday, 4 August 2016

CEO Sleepout with the Ambassador of Switzerland.

On July 28th 2016, I joined the Ambassador of Switzerland and almost 200 CEO’s at Nelson Mandela Bridge for the #4Leaders4Change CEO Sleepout challenge to spend the night there to fundraise money while gaining empathy for the homeless. The ambassador’s 3 leaders included myself (Joyful Mdhluli), Zoë Petersen and Balz Abplanalp as seen in the picture below.
Embassy of Switzerland's #4Leaders4Change
Embassy of Switzerland's #4Leaders4Change
The #4Leaders4Change CEO Sleepout challenge managed to raise around 19 million by the night of sleepout with the Embassy of Switzerland fundraising over R217 000 to date. We were given a sleeping bag and cardboard boxes to sleep on after having donated a blanket, an informal outfit including shoes and a book. Coffee and soup was available and could be purchased with virtual money we had to work for by either making sandwiches at the kitchen stalls, taking selfies at the photo booth or knitting blankets.

Clothes that were donated upon arrival.
Zoë and I making sandwiches to buy coffee/hot chocolate and soup.
The Ambassador and I after donating our clothes.

I met a lot of CEO’s including the CEO of MTN, KMPG, Liberty Group SA and companies I didn’t even know existed. Among the CEO’s I also met the Premier of Gauteng , the Mayor of Joburg, the Minister of Finance, the ambassador of Canada and the Sleepout organizers.

Ambassador with the CEO of MTN.
Most of the people attempted to sleep in the cold tar road after 12 am and only a few (including myself) stayed up sitting around the fire.

People made tents out of boxes.
Team Switzerland sleeping around 2 am.
After spending 12 hours out in the cold, the Minister of Finance addressed the crowd and Mr Tokyo Sexwale announced that he would be hosting the CEO Sleepout next year on Neslon Mandela Day in Robben Island. 
On our way home at 6 am after spending 12 hours on the bridge.
The experience has taught me to look at homeless people differently. When I see a homeless person now, I don’t see a dirty person who is annoying me for money but someone who spends every night out in the cold with no food or warm clothes. I barely survived the night while wearing 3 jerseys, 3 pairs of pants and a fire to keep me warm. I definitely have empathy for the homeless after spending the night out in the cold.

All the sandwiches made during the night were all given to over a 1000 homeless people together with all the sleeping bags used, clothes and blankets donated.

The homeless collecting their food, sleeping bags and blankets.
It was an honor and a privilege to share this experience with the Ambassador and her team members but I really hope I don't have to do that again any time soon.

More information about the Sleepout