Mandela Day – the annual commemoration of the incredible 67 years that Nelson Mandela selflessly dedicated to his country – will be a little different again this year.
Usually we see teams of people working together to paint an orphanage, or clear a beach of litter, or pack a share of 67 000 food parcels for the needy. It is, in effect, a social event in all meanings of the word.
But with lockdown restrictions in place, we must all think a little differently about how we can dedicate a small piece of ourselves for the betterment of others.
If you are unable to donate your time this year as you normally would, we suggest that you consider donating R67 to one of Cape Town’s many fantastic projects that work to make the world around us a better place. Here are a few of our favourites:
All the Arts need our help right now. But here’s one that we have followed for years. Their performances range from the heartwarmingly endearing to the heartstoppingly brilliant, and without exception they are full of joy.
Dance For All’s mission is to provide children in historically disadvantaged communities with the opportunity for enjoyment, empowerment and the promotion of self-esteem through the medium of dance, as well as training professional dancers and developing a unique, indigenous dance company.
In the words of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, “Dance For All is a story of hope. It also speaks of vision, determination, disappointment, triumph, failure, perseverance, and inspiration. Most of the children who benefit from the training DFA provides are all too familiar with economic struggle, as well as challenging circumstances at home or in their environment. For them, DFA is a haven where they are nurtured and encouraged to realise that these challenges do not define them; that they can dare to dream of making a better life for themselves.”
The economy has tanked, there is a pandemic raging, and it’s winter. Homelessness is one of the biggest plights facing Cape Town – we see that every day. We all know the adage “rather give a hand up than a hand out”. But if we really want to help, our best investment is in those who support the homeless on a daily basis.
The Haven holds with a simple belief: that no one should have to live on the street. This organisation, founded in 1978, recognises that sometimes people find themselves on a downward spiral from which they cannot break free. In its 15 homes across the Western Cape, it offers temporary shelter, rehabilitation opportunities, social welfare services, family reunification services, and physical care, all focussed on providing the support and stability needed by destitute people wanting to find their feet again.
More than simply food and a bed, The Haven regards its guests as clients, working with each of them on a personalised development plan to help them reintegrate as smoothly as possible.
Some of us are more animal-people than people-people. We get that. We derive a lot of joy from our furry friends, and we respect those who dedicate their lives to protecting them. There are many local organisations set up for animal welfare, but – if only for the crazy names (the current roster hosts Steve Jobs and Ferrero Rocher) – we have a huge soft spot for Oscars Arc.
Oscars Arc is a registered NPO aiming, quite simply, to save shelter dogs’ lives. You have more than likely already seen the ‘WOOF Project’, with its distinctive container, in places such as the Waterfront, the Seapoint promenade and Constantia Village.
The signature initiative of Oscars Arc, the WOOF project is a dynamic mobile dog adoption initiative that takes dogs from shelters to the public, rather than waiting for the public to visit the shelters. By this means and by its creative and often hilarious marketing (check out their website to see what we mean) the Oscars Arc team has accelerated dog adoption, achieving a well-deserved world record for most adoptions in one day by one agency.
And of course there’s the environment! The pandemic has highlighted not only the need for urgent action on climate change but also the incredible benefits that mindfulness and getting back to nature can bring.
Greenpop is on a mission to inspire an abundance of nature within cities by creating green spaces in all communities, accessible to – and managed by – an inspired citizenry.
Founded in 2010, Greenpop aims to plant 500,000 trees to restore degraded forest areas, increase biodiversity, and expand ecosystem services across Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025. Crucially, it also protects the areas it restores by providing locally relevant support services including alien clearing, wood lot development, and alternative livelihoods training to ensure sustainable management.
This award-winning registered non-profit organisation is currently working on a project to create biodiversity corridors across urban Cape Town, because “Green urban spaces are an essential part of physical and mental well-being”.