Anyone and everyone is able to be a major part of a community, regardless of social or economic status.

“You don’t need to come from wealth or privilege to make a difference.”
– Joni Ernst

 
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Forget about hierarchy. Forget titles. Your name is your title. And you are an individual with exactly the same rights as anyone else. And by rights, I mean, the right to let your voice be heard. The right to fight for a change. The right to make that change.

Your well-being (in terms of physical and mental health) is important, and so is the well-being of everyone around you. I’m sure you’ve heard the (maybe cliché) saying that “it starts with you”? Well, it really does. Looking after yourself and creating a more positive space for yourself, is a contagious energy that directly affects those immediately around you.

 
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With technology, such as OurHood, getting your neighbours involved has never been easier.
People want to help. They want to get involved. But they don’t always know how. You can offer them a way.

Think outside the box. Each one of us has a talent, so why not share it? If you are talented in the arts & crafts department, host a painting class once a month at a local hospice. Good at sport? Start a local sports club for the youth in your community. Do something that gives your life, and the lives of others, purpose.

 
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Grounded at Echo is an NPO that has given the community of The Moot. The Moot is a community made up of a handful of suburbs, North of Central Pretoria. It started with two individuals volunteering at an NPO called Echo Youth Development.

“Grounded at Echo started in December 2014 as a collaborative project between me and my husband, David, with an NGO (Echo Youth) that we were closely involved with since meeting.

“The NGO had a long-standing need for a community platform and portal between the NGO and the wider Moot community, and David (engineer) and I (graphic designer) had some experience in food and coffee, but most importantly a big passion for café culture-getting people together and seeing what ideas come alive when people share food, coffee and good company.

 
Pic credit: Grounded at Echo, Instagram: @grounded_at_echo

“Echo’s need, and David and my passion/dream, came together and brought Grounded at Echo to life,” explains Karolien van Berkel.

Grounded started as a coffee shop and co-working space, allowing the community into a comfortable, non-intimidating environment, where they can experience the value of “Echo-living”.

 
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Grounded also has a number of communes, not only for high school children, people from children’s homes, people who were in prison that are now out on parole – people with no other alternatives – but also for volunteers who would like to give back to those from less privileged circumstances.

Van Berkel says the lines between volunteers and those they are helping, often gets blurred, as those who thought they came to help quickly realise they have so much to learn from different backgrounds to their own.

 
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“We can talk about making a difference or we can make a difference.”
– Anonymous

Entrepreneurship and supporting local businesses is the best way to alleviate the unemployment rate in our country. It also motivates others to do the same.

(You can read more about some young entrepreneurs here:
https://www.sagoodnews.co.za/youthful-entrepreneurs-light-the-way/)

According to an article by Wilton Park (an executive agency which provides a global forum for strategic discussion), the African Development Bank estimates that nearly 50% of youth in Sub-Saharan Africa will be unemployed or economically inactive by 2025. The region continues to suffer the highest youth working poverty rates globally, at almost 70 percent.

 
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Achieving decent work for all is key. Not only to promoting the well-being of African youth and driving economic prosperity in the region, but also in achieving the sustainable development goals, which aims to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. This also means ensuring that women and girls, minorities, disabled people and those affected by HIV/AIDS, are not excluded from meaningful participation in the economy.

 
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If you have a business, a career, a project that you want to start, just start. Once you’ve started, you can look for help. There are networks, there is funding, and there is training. If you don’t try, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

 
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Thus, by using a platform such as OurHood, you’ll be able to network, meet people who are like-minded, and get the help you need to start your business. Or, you’ll get help you didn’t know you needed, turning your whole idea into a different, possibly even better direction.

 
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“I believe that one individual who is determined to make a difference in the world, can, with desire, drive, dedication, discipline, passion, and persistence. The world can be altered and billions of people’s lives can be impacted positively in an unimaginable way.”
– Unknown

 
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Ever heard of “random acts of kindness”? I’m sure you have. Keep your eyes and ears open. Contact your local animal shelter and see what you can donate. Find out if there are any charities in your area. Take ice cream to your nearest children’s hospital or home for the elderly. Leave an encouraging note on a stranger’s car. Tip your waiter or petrol attendant more than usual. Go for a walk and pick up any litter you find along the way.

Sidenote: Litter has a psychological impact downstream – it makes people devalue their circumstances.

Or as a business, offer your services for free, as often as possible.

 
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A recent example of this is where a local fisheries in my hood sponsored hot chips for lunch to the council workers fixing potholes in the area.
“People (are quick to) complain when a place is dirty, and don’t easily (offer) compliment(s) when it is clean. It was really just our way of showing gratitude,” says the owner, who didn’t want to be named.

 
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These are the type of businesses that OurHood wants to honour, as they are a true example of giving back by simply just using that which is available to you, and by being kind and showing your appreciation. Who knows if that was the only meal one of those council workers was going to have that day?

 
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OurHood wants to ask that you support local businesses in your area. Help the underdog become the top dog. Spread the word on OurHood and help them gain the support and exposure they need.