R2.7m raised to fund heart surgeries for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital

A charity drive in a modified VW Beetle across Africa and Europe coupled with a radio initiative to raise money for life-saving heart surgeries for children in Southern Africa have managed to raise nearly R3m for the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital. 

After embarking on an almost 40 day trip from South Africa to Romania to raise funds and awareness for the Boikanyo Foundation which provides funding for the surgeries, a R2.7m cheque was handed to the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital. 

The handover took place on Wednesday during Jacaranda FMs Good Morning Angels show.

The money, which will be able to fund 67 heart operations, was handed over to Professor Hopewell Ntsinjana on behalf of the Round Table Boikanyo Bug Drivers and Good Morning Angels, representing the listeners. 

The modified VW Beetle, better known as the Boikanyo Bug, departed Jozi on July 18, driven by Leigh Michael and Alex Staniland and made it in time for the Round Table International World meeting in Romania on August 24. 

Round Table Golden East 181's project convener, Gareth Coats, said the trip went well, with a few minor snags along the way.

While the Boikanyo Bug was meant to cross 12 countries including Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Turkey before making its way to Romania, there were changes made to the route due to unrest in Ethiopia and Sudan, Coats told News24 on Wednesday. 

READ:1972 VW Beetle set to head from Jozi to Romania to raise funds for child heart surgeries

"When we were travelling through Malawi into Tanzania we had to make a decision because we had still hadn't received any visas, so we decided that it would be best for us to fly the vehicle into Europe instead of driving through Ethiopia and Sudan," he said. 

He said the team had to alter its plans because of challenges while trying to get the vehicle to Belgium after it arrived in Kenya.

However funds were raised in order for it to fly to Belgium. 

Bug auctioned

After this leg of the journey, they drove through a few European countries, including the Netherlands and Germany, and eventually made it to Romania and in time for the event, said Coats. 

"Along the way, the guys built up some really good relationships with some of the other Round Table associations. Each of these Round Table associations started investing in the project and started making some donations." 

The Boikanyo Bug was auctioned off and bought by a Round Table member from Norway, who then drove it from Romania to Norway after the event. 

Donations were also raised through raffle tickets and Coats said individuals had also donated money to fund a full surgery. 

67 surgeries 

"At the Round Table meeting we had guys that had driven to Romania from Germany on motorcycles. They auctioned their motorcycles off and used the money to donate to the project," he added. 

Coats said the biggest money spinner for the project was the Good Morning Angels listeners.

He said, of the R2.7m raised, R1.7m was from Jacaranda's listeners and R900 000 from the Boikanyo Bug. 

Fundraising was still ongoing, and Coats hinted that a similar project might take place again in 2020. 

"We just need to think of something that is as entertaining... as the Bug. We still have to try and collect some of the money that other people have offered," Coats said. 

He said the foundation was happy it was able to raise the funds for 67 surgeries, a number with a deep-rooted meaning for most South Africans.

"What an auspicious number. We never aimed to land on 67 surgeries, it was coincident that the funds would fund about 67 surgeries while we spend 67 minutes of our time on Nelson Mandela's birthday," said Coats.

"Amazed at generosity of listeners"

The money will go into the Boikanyo Foundation for the administration of the surgery processes. 

Jacaranda's breakfast show host Martin Bester, told News24 that they had held an outside broadcast from the Mandela Hospital on Mandela Day to raise funds for 10 children.

However, by the end of the show, listeners said 10 was not enough and the number went to 40 and that's when the project gained momentum, and ended up collaborating with the Boikanyo Foundation and its Bug. 

"We handed over a cheque of R2.7m for these operations. We are amazed at the generosity of our listeners, friends and partners in South Africa," Bester said.