“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 that will determine the significance of the life we lead”- Nelson Mandela
What do you and I have in common? Apart from the fact that you are a business owner or professional who needs to be heard and wants to become succesful? Some of us are parents, some of us are not, but the one thing that ties us all together is the fact that we are all part of a community. Hello? Are you with me? Remember the time when you used to know your neighbours, care for your fellow man and actively took part in initiatives that made a difference to others? Who taught you to do that?
As Madiba change makers are gearing up across our country to play their part in Madiba’s legacy on 18 July, I thought about what makes a caring society? The message behind Mandela Day is simple – each individual has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better and should do so not only for 67 minutes on 18 July, but every day in order to build the country of our dreams.
I then decided to write our first blog about something far more important than digital strategies, e-marketing buzz words and social media updates. As owner and founder of EB Consulting, I have worked very hard during the past 5 years to build a communications agency that delivers an authentic, niche service delivery model and it is also no secret that Badisa, the social services organisation, is one of our NPO clients, but on a far more personal note, I have also been a mom to not only my own son, aged 10, (who is living on the autism spectrum) I am also fostering two children, aged 7 and 14 months.
Why? I firmly believe that nowhere else is the foundation that we lay for tomorrow more important than with our children. Yet, it is an unfortunate fact that the children in our communities do not always have parents that are equipped to protect them. This leads to neglect, abuse, sexual abuse and violence against the most vulnerable in our society. The argument might be made that the education and protection of our children is the responsibility of our government, yet even with the mandate of the Department of Social Development social workers can only provide intervention, assessment, statutory services and protection to these children.
What these children need is love and acceptance, something that only a loving family can provide. No infrastructure, training centre or money can replace the value of a healthy family. That still remains the heart and soul of any society. A family is the only system that can provide them with a sense of belonging.
There is an urgent and desperate need today for volunteers to take up roles as safety or foster parents. People who are willing to open their hearts and minds to make a difference to the life of a vulnerable child.
"I don't have time, I will never be able to do it, I don't have money, I don't need the hassle" - the reasons why we don't get involved are endless, yet once you are called upon to make a difference in your community, you really discover your purpose and the rewards in your own life become immeasurable and endless. Many people comment on social media that they will never understand how someone can abuse a child. My question to you is what are you going to do about it? Not everyone can become a foster parent, but there are a myriad of ways to support the organisations that need your help in making the difference to the life of a child.
When you plant a tree, you never do it for yourself, the advantages it offers, such as shade, fruit or flowers, will only be enjoyed once the tree is fully grown, mainly to the benefit of the next generation. A child is the most precious gift you will ever receive in your lifetime. But not only is the child valuable to you, he/she is also your gift to future generations.
We are all trees in one orchard – we are all connected in our community.
So on 18 July let’s remember Madiba’s wishes uttered on his 90th birthday for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”.
If you are interested to become a Badisa Volunteer, register as a safety or foster parent we urge you to not make assumptions about what this means, rather visit their website at www.badisa.org.za to see how you can also get involved in one of their other programmes in your community.
We salute all our clients who are making a difference this Mandela Day.