A reconstruction project for a primary school is underway in former South African president Nelson Mandela's childhood home town of Qunu.
QUNU, EASTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA (RECENT-JULY 16, 2012) (LYONESS INTERNATIONAL HANDOUT) - A school in the small South African town of Qunu, is getting a much needed makeover, partly thanks to its most famous former resident, Nelson Mandela.
The village's No-Moscow Primary School had been partially destroyed by a storm in 2002.
The 228 pupils at the school have since been forced to study under difficult conditions. There is not enough teaching material, huge cracks line classroom walls and much of the furniture and windows are also in a bad state. Up to 60 children are forced to study in one small room at any one time.
Mandela, who is considered a hero around the world for his fight against the South African apartheid regime, spent much of his childhood in Qunu and has recently spoken about his intention to move back.
He has now teamed up with the Lyoness Child & Family Foundation to fund the project.
"Education is important, if you are not educated, you can not be a leader," Mandela said.
The project was first initiated by Mandela's grandson, Mbuso Mandela, who is also a member of the foundation. Like his grandfather he associates many good childhood memories with life in Qunu.
"This is where I grew up, this is where my heart is, this is where like all my childhood memories are. Like Easter, June, December the whole family always comes here and we always sit together over Christmas, New Year - we are always together and we have so many memories here," Mbuso said.
The project's launch coincided with Mandela's 94th birthday. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton who had travelled to South Africa to attend the official celebrations also stopped by for a visit at the school.
He and his daughter, Chelsea, were greeted by Mandela's wife, Graça Machel.
She said the launch was a good way to kick off the birthday festivities.
"The fact that we are starting these celebrations with children, presenting a special gift to children, it has a huge significance for Madiba. He adores children."
"From now on these children will look at the Child & Family Foundation as a partner, as someone who is part of their life, someone who has changed their life. So I believe, this is the beginning of building a relationship which is going to leave a mark, a really important mark in the future of these children," she said.
Founder and CEO of Lyoness International, Hubert Freidl, said he hopes students will be able to move into their new classrooms by the end of the year.
"We have given ourselves 6 months to achieve this goal and realise this project here in South Africa together with the Nelson Mandela family," he said.
The project includes plans for the building of seven new classrooms complete with new furniture, as well as toilets, a library and a new playground.