Millions of South Africans come together on 18 July every year to play their part in making a difference in the lives of others, for Nelson Mandela Day. Those 67 minutes of kindness play a major role in bringing smiles to the faces of children receiving their first square meal in days, changing a future by establishing a library, helping vulnerable people reclaim some of their dignity or making the present a little brighter in an environment desperately in need of a lick of paint and some TLC.
But what if we shared a little kindness every day, instead of just dedicating one day a year to doing something selfless? There are 525 600 minutes in a year, so that investment of 67 minutes, once a year on Mandela Day, represents 0.00013% of your year. On the other hand sharing one minute of kindness a day, every day, results in six hours of impact each year, directed in whichever direction you choose. That’s just shy of six Mandela Day celebrations in a year for each of us – imagine how much more of a difference that could make.
Lending a helping hand – as we see every year on Mandela Day – doesn’t mean a helping hand-out. The United Nations General Assembly declared 18 July ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’ in November 2009 in recognition of Madiba’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity in areas including conflict resolution; race relations; promotion and protection of human rights; reconciliation; gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups; the fight against poverty; the promotion of social justice and acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world. What the day honours is Madiba’s desire to see positive change –his will in driving change and his ability to make those around him see the importance of helping as many people as possible in as many ways as possible.
There’s so much need in South Africa and it’s all around us, every day. It’s impossible to listen to the radio, scroll your social media feeds or simply drive to the office without seeing the need for more. More work, better schooling, more honest leaders, inhabitable housing, improved service delivery, more shelter – more of everything, to deliver more opportunity. South Africans are always happy to lend a helping hand wherever we can, but the squeeze being put on everyone by rising inflation, increases in interest rates and the precarious nature of employment means that there’s only so much to go around.
The driving philosophy of the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet program is to ‘Make Every Swipe Count’. The people touched by the work of our thousands of Beneficiaries see that difference in their lives, every day. Those swipes build classrooms, put food on the table, save animals in distress, provide libraries, educate tomorrow’s leaders and help improve the conditions in which millions of people live. It’s the power of collective action – it’s not the only model, it’s not the best model, nor is it a definitive solution to the problems that our country faces, but it’s a start. Making a difference can seem daunting, but through collective action, we can positively impact the lives of people, animals and environments with every swipe.
Whether you volunteer your time to teach children to read, share out your spare change at a traffic light, pack food parcels for the elderly, source dignity packs for underprivileged women or rescue an animal, you’re making a positive difference in every single life your deed touches. Now roll out one positive deed, every day of the year – and let’s see how quickly those small slices of the power of Mandela Day – each and every swipe – add up, every day.