April 2014

The spirit of sharing

On the 175th birth anniversary of Jamsetji Tata, Founder of the Tata group, Tata companies in Africa honoured his legacy by volunteering collectively to give back to the community

By encouraging and enabling employee volunteering, Tata companies bring together good people and good causes, and help make a difference

Jamsetji Tata, the Founder of the Tata group, was a visionary, an entrepreneur, a patriot and a humanist, whose ideals and vision shaped the Tata group. His philosophy of giving back to society is an integral part of the Tata group ethos. 

On the occasion of the 175th birth anniversary of Jamsetji Tata, the Tata Sustainability Group launched a group-level volunteering programme 'Tata Engage' and organised a Tata Volunteering Week (TVW) between March 3 and 9, 2014. The objective was to encourage as many Tata employees as possible to volunteer for the benefit of the communities. Along with their colleagues in different geographies, Tata employees in Africa participated with great enthusiasm.

In Kenya, employees of Tata Kenya visited Kenyatta Hospital and spent time playing and drawing with the young patients. They also donated food, clothes, milk powder, diapers, glucose and activity books. Other employees visited the St Bernard's Home in Langata, where they donated food and spent the whole day with the children. Fourteen employees spent time with children with special needs at Mother Teresa Home in Thika and gave them toys and activity items. At the Dream Home in Rongai, the employees had fun cooking lunch for the children and playing with them. 

"Selfless act of kindness with the intention of easing the burden on fellow mankind has amazing physical and spiritual rewards to both parties”
Roderick Mpofu, general manager, Tata Chemicals South Africa

Volunteers from Tata Africa Services (Nigeria) painted several classrooms at the Amuwo Odofin Community Junior Secondary School in Lagos to help create a conducive learning environment for the students.

Tata Steel KZN employees in South Africa visited the government-run Ngwelezane Hospital at KwaZulu-Natal and distributed goodie bags filled with crayons, colouring books, toys, sweets and fruits to the young patients. “It was so amazing and such a blessing to see the joy on the faces of the children as they received their goodie bags and even more so when they opened it; it is amazing how much of joy a small gesture can bring to a child,” said a volunteer.

In Johannesburg, employee volunteers from Tata Africa Holdings enjoyed a day with the children at the Vukani Early Learning Centre, giving them some much-appreciated attention. They also repaired and donated two CPU’s for the children; decorated the walls with numbers and drawings; and fitted much-needed toilet seats. The volunteers felt really good about giving their time and will be doing more such activities in the future.

Photo gallery


In a joint initiative, volunteers from Tata Africa Holdings, Tata Automobile Corporation South Africa, and Tata Africa Steel Processors in South Africa visited the Johannesburg Children’s Home, a shelter for abused, neglected and abandoned children. They refurbished three dormitories, repaired cupboards, and installed curtains and a new pool pump. Volunteers also treated the children to a braai (a barbecue or grill) followed by sports activities.

Tata Ghana employees organised a blood donation programme in collaboration with the National Blood Service at the company’s Tema premises; 52 employees and another 30 volunteers from the district education service and the community in Kpone-Tema participated in this camp. 

Tata Africa companies create volunteering opportunities with a focus on children

Taj Cape Town has been associated with the Amy Biehl Foundation, a non-profit organisation that busies itself with educational, cultural and sporting initiatives for children for the past three years. The aim of organising these educational and cultural activities is to counter the negative influences in these children's lives. In the second week of March, Taj Cape Town supported the foundation with a 'Pick n' Pay Cycle Tour' to raise funds to empower youth between 5-18 years, who live in the most challenged and vulnerable communities in the Western Cape. 

Employees from Tata Chemicals South Africa visited the iThembu Lethu (Our Hope) Children's Home, which houses children under three, who have been abandoned, given up for adoption, or are HIV positive. The volunteers played with the toddlers, fed them, read to them and put them to bed.

Tata Africa Steel Processors volunteers chose to visit the Oliver's House  in the economically disadvantaged town of Daveyton, north-east of Johannesburg, which looks after 200 orphaned children, as well as provides daily soup to the elderly members of the community. Volunteers donated food, cutlery and school bags to the children, and cooked and served them food. They hung educational charts on the walls and taught the children. The smiles and the warmth from the children touched the hearts of the volunteers.

In Tanzania, volunteers from Tata Holdings (Tanzania) spent their time at the Uhuru Mchanganyiko Primary School, which has blind students on its rosters, and at the SOS Children's Village, Tanzania. Two Perkins Braillers were donated to the primary school, and food and drinks were a welcome gift at the children's village. At both places, volunteers spoke about the need for education, and chatted with the children about their ambitions and extra-curricular interests.

Fourteen employees from Tata Africa Senegal assisted in the construction of a mosque and in planting trees in its front yard. The employees enjoyed the work and felt a sense of solidarity with the community.

Tata Automobile Corporation SA, Tata Steel Processors and Tata Africa Holdings SA donate food, toiletries, etc to Johannesburg Children’s Home

The Johannesburg Children’s Home in Observatory was the focal point for volunteers from Tata Automobile Corporation SA. The centre shelters children who have been physically, sexually and emotionally abused, as well as those who have been abandoned and neglected. Volunteers spent the day repairing cupboard doors and curtain railings, replacing the pool pump, donating food to the centre and cooking a braai for residents.

These initiatives, a small part of the multitude of social and environmental initiatives that have been nurtured by Tata companies from their earliest days, arise out of voluntary, not forced commitment, and give employee volunteers a better understanding of the communities in which they live. Here in Africa, these contributions by Tata company volunteers are small but significant steps taken towards changing lives for the better.