Across the globe, on 18thJuly, the day of Mandela’s birthday, Mandela Day is celebrated to honour the legacy of our former President, Nelson Mandela. In South Africa, however, one day is simply not enough, and that is why we celebrate Mandela Month.
In memory of the 67 years that Nelson Mandela dedicated to fighting for justice, peace and reconciliation, Mandela Day encourages us to spend just 67 minutes of our own time volunteering and giving to those less fortunate. Whilst 67 minutes may seem rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things, the real message behind Mandela Day is to show how little time it can take to really make a difference to someone else’s life. The day calls on us to look back at what has been done and look forward to what can be done. In South Africa, we choose to celebrate Mandela for the whole of July to give us time to reflect on the life of the hero who united South Africans and freed our nation from oppression. So let’s use this month as an opportunity to make an imprint and give back to those in need through acts of kindness. It does not matter how big, or how small the action is, rather, it is about forgetting about ourselves and thinking of others.
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others what will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela
How you and your neighbourhood can give back this Mandela Month:
Support a local charity: South Africa is home to thousands of inspiring charities and non-profit organisations. Whether it is just for the day, or perhaps a weekly or monthly basis, get involved by donating or volunteering. Choose an organisation that connects most with you, or, use the OurHood platform to find a worthy cause and fundraise together.
Feed the hungry: more than 14 million South Africans go hungry every day, but the good news is, there are many ways we can help. Connect with your neighbours and get a team together to create food packages with staples such as bread, milk and a few non-perishable goods and hand them out to those in need. Volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen. Or donate to a food distribution organisation such as FoodForward, where as little as R300 can feed someone for an entire year.
Clean up your neighbourhood: gather your neighbours via the OurHood platform and organise a neighbourhood clean-up. If cleaning up the whole community seems unrealistic, choose areas which need it the most. Cleaning does not have to be boring. Why not get the children involved by making it into a game and see who can be the first to pick up 67 pieces of litter?
Donate children books:did you know that just over 50% of South African families own no books for recreational reading? You can help to change this by rounding up your neighbours and donating any unwanted children’s books to your local library or school. Not only does reading stimulate the mind, but it fosters creativity and imagination.
Spend time with the young and old: use your 67 minutes to connect with elderly and/or youths in your neighbourhood. Social connections help to keep senior people healthy and reverse cognitive decline, whilst older role models impact hugely on young children’s lives. Identifying with individual neighbours and supporting one another will help to foster a sense of community and create stronger and safer neighbourhoods.
Carry on your selfless acts:your good deeds don’t have to be restricted to July only. Use this month as a reminder to make lasting changes, and continue your giving for days, months and even years after.
These are only a few of the selfless acts you and your community can get involved in this year. If you need some more inspiration for neighbourhood activities, such as setting up a community garden, check out our past blogs. How you choose to celebrate is completely up to you, but remember, volunteering is much more than investing financially. It is about emotional investment too; it is about donating time, kindness and gratitude.
The OurHood Team 🙂
Connecting Neighbours, Strengthening Communities