On his birthday, July 18, the world commemorates Mandela Day, a day dedicated to bringing communities together and doing what you can to protect and uplift the most vulnerable. Mandela Day was declared an international Day’s of recognition by the United Nations in 2009, four years before the late president’s passing. To further this recognition of his legacy, the month of July is also unofficially acknowledged as “Mandela Month” in South Africa.
On Mandela Day itself, citizens are encouraged to spend 67 minutes of their time in service to others in need. These 67 minutes are in appreciation of the 67 years that Nelson Mandela spent fighting for justice, equality, and human rights for all. This encompasses the years he worked as a human rights lawyer, the years he spent in prison, the years of his presidency, and the years after that when he remained an icon and example for international human rights.
These circumstances have left a large number of people in need of social security and support.
While under COVID-19 lockdown in 2021, citizens could not show up for Mandela Day in the usual manner — for example renovating community properties like schools and clinics, reading to children, running soup kitchens, spending time with the elderly, and other physical ways of showing up — however, with restrictions entirely eased up, this year South Africa can show up in a manner that suits everyone’s needs.
1. Feed the Hungry in the Community
In a society that still bears the scars of the past, it is not difficult to see those in need on a daily basis. This Mandela Day, why not round up a group of your friends and put together food packages? A few loaves of bread, some milk, and a few cans of non-perishables can go a long way to those in need! Once you and your friends have put together a few food packages, take a drive through your local community and hand them out to people in need. A bit of planning and a drive around can make a huge difference in your community!
2. Spend time with the Elderly
In this case, I’m not only talking about your own nana or gogo (even though they deserve all the love and care in the world). For Mandela Day this year, consider spending an hour in an old age home, visiting those that we sometimes tend to forget, and having a conversation with the older folks in the community. Another option could be to take an elderly neighbor of yours and do their shopping or chores in town. Taking the time to really listen or support someone is about way more than just filling your 67 minutes quota.
3. Spend time with the Young People
How about offering to spend 67 minutes in one of your local schools or orphanages, playing with the children or reading to them? You could even offer to provide extra classes or tutor some of the children struggling with a subject you excel in! Most schools are happy to accommodate students who are willing to provide help and service in whatever manner possible! Lend a hand to our overworked teachers and see where you can provide support!
4. Get your Hands Dirty
Take a look around your community. Are there any places where you could provide service in the form of building or painting? Local non-profit organizations are often in need of volunteers to help with painting, moving, cleaning, and building. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a project come together, whether it be adding a new lick of paint to a room desperately needing paint, or sanding down desks in a school that cannot afford new desks. You don’t need to be an engineer, just grab a paintbrush or tear off a piece of sandpaper and get your hands dirty!
5. Get your Community Clean
Why not round up a few of your friends and spend an hour cleaning up your local community by picking up litter and rubbish? It may seem like a small act, but spending an hour doing something for your community will make a difference – no matter how small!