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Gearing up for Mandela Day? Here are tips to become a social activist for 67 minutes


One can spend time with the vulnerable by visiting orphanages and old age homes.

Head of Mandela Day at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Gushwell Brooks, says people can help uplift their communities by painting schools, planting trees, food and clothes donation to the disadvantaged and a significant one, donate sanitary towels for schoolgirls for their 67 minutes. Picture: supplied

AS July is famously dubbed “Mandela Month” to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s humanitarian work, many South Africans flock in numbers for community service, keeping up the spirit of Ubuntu and togetherness.

Thus, head of Mandela Day at the Nelson Mandela Foundation Gushwell Brooks outlined a slew of activities to render in one’s community and neighbourhood.

Brooks explained people can volunteer in their local communities, such as cleaning up their neighbourhood and be advocates of the environment.

One can spend time with the vulnerable by visiting orphanages and old age homes.

“You can play games, read to them, or just having a conversation could really brighten their day. This is about remembering everybody in your community, and reminding marginalised people that they belong,” said Brooks.

Be a community activist by either joining a sanitary pad drive or donating sanitary towels to schoolgirls and disadvantaged women. Period poverty is among other challenges that contribute to a poor education system, as girls miss school days due to lack of sanitary towels.

Brooks encouraged people to play a role in improving the country’s school infrastructure. “Many schools in South Africa are in a poor state and students have to learn in uninspiring, un-dignifying environments. Painting the walls is a great way of contributing to the students’ success,” he said.

In addition, he implored South Africans to share and donate anything they have for the indigent, from food, warm clothes amid winter and toys for children.

“Give old bedding, clothes and toys to an orphanage. Many orphanages are underfunded and are in dire need of resources. Donating resources could meaningfully contribute to the well-being of the people staying there.

“Plant a community garden with your neighbours, or donate trees to a needy area. Having access to good food and clean air significantly improves the lives of people living in your community.”

There is nothing as great as spreading awareness, Brooks said.

Hence, he noted people can spread awareness about Mandela Day on social media to reach a large global audience.

He added that people can participate in the Mandela Day Walk and Run on July 20 at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg in order to embrace the spirit of Ubuntu and give back to the community.

Lastly, if you cannot physically engage in a campaign, Brooks said people can donate funds to NGOs as they are dependent on public donations to operate.

“Help fund social justice organisations. NGOs in South Africa are severely underfunded and the work they do for people in South Africa is life-changing. Consider donating funds to your favourite NGO,” said Brooks.

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