Celebrating World Earth Day

Celebrating World Earth Day are, from left, Mark Veldsman, Shelley Veldsman and Lisa Veldsman from the Matthew Veldsman Smile Foundation.

The Matthew Veldsman Smile Foundation (MVSF) celebrated World Earth Day on April 22, by planting 10 spekboom trees.

The Kenwyn based non-profit was launched at the end of February by the family of 22-year-old Matthew Veldsman who died in his sleep in November 2018, due to a connective-tissue disorder that caused his right coronary artery to rupture.

The family planted the trees in their garden in Kenwyn and encouraged all friends and organisation members who bought 100 spekboom trees at the MVSF launch to plant it on their properties on World Earth Day and share their pictures on social media.

The MVSF continues to honour Matthew’s legacy with the goal of moulding boys and young men into good citizens and role models (“Foundation honours kind, gentle Matthew,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, March 5).

Matthew’s mother and bookkeeper of MVSF, Shelley Veldsman says their original plan was to work with 100 Grade 7 boys at a nearby school but they had to change their plans because of the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“We were going to educate the boys around the important facts about why we are doing this so that they can take care of the earth and also make them aware of the many properties of the spekboom,” she says.

Apart from celebrating World Earth Day and taking part in the spekboom challenge, which involves planting as many of the trees as possible as they have the ability to absorb more carbon dioxide than any other plant, the MVSF also wanted to honour Matthew’s love for nature.

“Matthew’s nickname was ‘ spec’ and the spekboom brings about healing to the planet because of its properties and as we as a foundation roll out programmes to bring about healing to our country, we too as a family will heal from the devastation of Matthew’s sudden death.”

The lockdown has restricted the MVSF’s work as their primary target group was pupils but schools have been closed since March 18.

“We do continue to have meetings via Zoom video conferencing or through the committee WhatsApp group to plan going forward and to rethink how we can achieve our goals through digital platforms should this lockdown persist,” said Ms Veldsman.

If anyone would like to find out more about the MVSF, they can visit mvsmilefoundation.wixsite.com/website or follow their Instagram page @matthewveldsmansmilefoundation