Make a difference IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Vincent Phahlane looks at what your stokvel can do to improve the lives of community members
STOKVELS need to reach out to their communities and engage with people from their communities to learn more about them in order to help. They should encourage community members to get involved in community projects. As a stokvel if you want to be the change you want to see, you should be active and effective in the community.
There is so much a stokvel can offer the community. The stokvel can give back to the community in different ways; members can give money or their time. Giving back to the community can take a variety of forms, depending on what the community lacks the most.
There are many ideas that can awaken the members' giving side and serve those who need help in the community.
Ideas range from donating items that can be of good use to the community, hosting a fundraising event, to lending a helping hand through volunteer work in the community.
HOW TO START HELPING THE COMMUNITY
Making a difference as a stokvel doesn’t have to be complicated. It is something that needs to come from the heart.
Vuyiswa Blie from the Style Sisters, a stokvel based in Pretoria, explains that their stokvel used many ways to make a difference in their community.
“We have done a lot of volunteering in our community and we are planning to do more. Doing volunteer work is good because it brings happiness to stokvel members and also helps them to form a bond,” she says.
Vuyiswa says being active in the community takes commitment from the group.
“It makes us question what our community means to us. Our stokvel believes that members should know that the group can play a significant role in helping the community with their needs,” she adds.
She also shares that a community feels more alive when stokvels volunteer to help with community projects. "It shows that we are also part of the community. Stokvels need to understand that helping the community makes many lives better.
“Communities come across problems, and sometimes there aren't enough resources to solve those problems. But the more love you pour into helping the community, the better it will be,” says Vuyiswa.
WAYS TO GET YOUR STOKVEL INVOLVED
Vuyiswa explains that knowing the people in your community is a great way to learn how you can help.
In that way, your stokvel can identify people in the community who are in need and help them by approaching businesses in the area with a plan of how they can help.
She mentions that there is always an easy way to make a difference in the community.
“You can start a collection programme or ask for donations of clothes, winter blankets and other items to give to those who are in need. During holidays such as Christmas, we encourage each other to bring sealed non-perishable foods that can be donated to local food banks,” says Vuyiswa.
"It’s a simple way to make your community better and to help create the kind of atmosphere that makes people feel safe and happy. That’s how your stokvel can engage with the community as well."
Vuyiswa says it is important to make the most of every opportunity to encourage community involvement in various projects, while using this as a way to motivate the members of the stokvel.
PUT YOUR PLAN INTO ACTION
Bongiwe Khumalo, a registered social worker from Ladybrand in the Free State, says she believes that in order for a stokvel to give back to the community, members should all come from the same area.
“The first step that a stokvel that wants to give back to the community should do is to draw up a plan that will guide them. If your stokvel wants to start a soup kitchen for example, it is important to consider the timing before doing something for the community,” she advises.
She goes on to say that it is important to look at what the community needs. “There is no use donating something that the community already has. Try to think out of the box.
"For example, as a stokvel you can introduce a programme that seeks to educate and help children understand more about the community they come from. This is needed as our children know nothing about where they come from,” she says.
LET THE STOKVEL COMMITTEE TAKE THE LEAD
Bongiwe adds that the stokvel committee is responsible for communicating with an organisation in the community that the group would like to visit or help.
"From there on, the committee will draw a plan going forward on the organisation's needs and what the stokvel can do to assist," she says.
According to Virginia Nxumalo, the secretary of Khomishanani Ladies Club based in Soshanguve in Pretoria, stokvels can find passionate volunteers to spread the word about what they are doing and share information via social media.
"Go public with your plan to make a difference, and tell people how they can get involved. Hold meetings to discuss how to put your plan into action,” she says.
“Some people prefer to help by donating money instead of their time. Don’t be afraid to ask for donations or hold fundraising events to raise money you can use for your cause."
Making a difference is something from the heart
Stokvels can give back to the community by giving their time or donating money to organisations in the community. This helps create an atmosphere of appreciation
Stokvel members should do volunteer work in the community as it can help to create a bond between members