BE THE CHANGE
IN 2009, THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY OFFICIALLY DECLARED 18TH JULY NELSON MANDELA DAY AND EACH YEAR ON THIS DAY – MADIBA’S BIRTHDAY – PEOPLE ACROSS THE GLOBE CELEBRATE HIS LEGACY THROUGH SELFLESS ACTS. BUT THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT. THIS YEAR WE CELEBRATE THE GREAT MAN’S 100TH BIRTHDAY SO IT’S THE PERFECT TIME TO DIG DEEPER AND DISCOVER NEW WAYS TO HELP OUR FELLOW MAN.
But if that’s not enough of a reason to be a do-gooder, consider that studies have shown that people who support others live happier, longer lives than those who don’t. In other words, it’s good for your health to help others.
And if you’re wondering where you can help, start by figuring out what causes are close to your heart. Are you passionate about children? Education? Access to decent healthcare? Animals? Conservation?
Here are some ideas on a few causes that could have a massive impact this year. So let’s pledge to make this year – the year Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 – one where we pay it forward and be the change we want to see in the world.
HELPING EVERYONE HAVE ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER
This is one of the year’s big news stories with heavy water restrictions in place in several provinces.Thankfully, in Cape Town, people have really played their par t – so much so, that it looks like the taps won’t run dry just yet. Still, clean water is still not easily accessible for far too many people.
Consider the fact that hundreds of thousands of South Africans already live without access to water. Water-borne diseases kill more children in Sub-Saharan Africa than HIV/AIDS, measles and malaria combined. In fact, almost 6,000 people die every day from consuming unsafe drinking water.The majority are children.
The Rotary Club in Sea Point, Cape Town, has made it their mission to turn this around through their SafeWater Project.The project aims to provide cost-effective filters to impoverished communities who have no access to clean and safe water. A simple way to support this initiative is through the sale of bracelets (relate.org.za) made by the Relate Trust. Each bracelet purchased is equivalent to purchasing 2,000 litres of clean and safe water.
The 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls) report released late last year revealed a statistic that left many fearing for the state of our children: Almost 80 % of Grade 4 pupils failed to reach the low international benchmark for reading and comprehension for that grade, and lack the fundamental skills for further learning.
The effects this will have on the future workforce and the economy goes without saying. We need to start making this right – now.
Shine Literacy (shineliteracy.org.za) is one organisation that’s going to work on this issue.Their focus on developing the reading, writing and speaking skills of Grade 2 and Grade 3 children from low-income communities has already seen results: In 2016, 70 %
of children attending Shine’s centres were at risk in terms of their literacy. Six months later that figure dropped to 17 %.
With the help of a network of over 900 volunteers working towards building a nation of readers, Shine Literacy programmes are active in 66 schools and serve over 4,500 children across South Africa.
You can support their cause by donating either your time or money to one of their Shine centres.You can also get a Shine Literacy bracelet at selected Woolworths stores nationwide or at Relate’s online shop (relate.org.za).
You can also support the Nelson Mandela School Library Project (more at relate.org.za) whose goal is to refurbish shipping containers into libraries. More than 80,000 children benefit daily from the project which has been ongoing since 2011.
South Africa’s high unemployment rate has ripple effects throughout the country and it highlights the importance of the state as well as private corporate businesses to step in. One such organisation that has made a difference is The Relate Trust, a proudly 100 % not-for-profit social enterprise which predominantly sells handmade beaded and woven bracelets to raise money for charities globally, while creating jobs for people in low income communities.
In the last three years alone, Relate has raised more than R26 million for causes in health, education, conservation, social upliftment, and children’s and women’s empowerment, while raising close to R50 million since it became a charitable trust in 2010. And at the same time, at-risk communities are given an employment lifeline through jobs making these bracelets.You can find their bracelets in retailers across the country.
For more information, visit www.relate.org.za.
Let’s pledge to make this year – the year Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 – one where we pay it forward and be the change we want to see in the world.