This afternoon was a serene and crystal clear Jo’burg winter one…yet for many unfortunate people we visited today in the heart of Jo’burg’s CBD, there are many untold and tragic stories of people’s lives that have become displaced.
July 18th celebrates the birth date of an auspicious and charismatic leader, Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa. His birthday is now known and marked as Mandela Day in South Africa; for the country this is a day when we remember the great man’s quests to help society and humanity in bettering themselves and creating a better future through their positive and peaceful actions. Yet there are many who are helpless and destitute in this rainbow nation of South Africa; Mandela Day is perhaps only a brief moment in time when such people may receive assistance from the more fortunate.
Some good friends and I took the initiative to make our mark in taking time out and helping the less fortunate on Mandela Day by holding a blanket drive in Jo’burg’s CBD this afternoon. Many people who live in the streets live in conditions that make it hard to understand how such people face the harshness of Jo’burg’s piercing cold. Many do not have adequate shelter, food, or basic amenities, one of which is a decent blanket to protect them from the harsh winter.
There are heroes such as Sam from an organisation called Paballo (http://www.paballo.org.za/) who assist and mentor people who live on the streets to attain better lives. Such an organisation has assisted and improved the lives of many destitute; some of us don’t realize that such an organisation can prevent people from going out and committing crimes against those fortunate like us. I was amazed to hear some of the stories of the people who belonged to such a group; many come from educated backgrounds arriving with dreams to fulfill like any of us would have…a majority are African foreigners who are now displaced in the CBD and for perhaps through no fault of their own soon found themselves on the infamous and dangerous streets of the CBD, many of which we have heard horrendous stories about.
Apart from the stories I heard, I began to think that many of us who are in top or leading positions have some real potential to help those who are needy…we often make excuses that we do not have the resources, strength or sufficient time to pursue such projects where we assist those who need our help; I am not trying to say we all do not want to take such initiatives…but I feel in such times we have our own ‘blankets’, covering our consciousnesses from the real truth that is out their in the world we dare not tread into.
Think about this for a few seconds…if each of us did a little bit by using our influence to help those that are destitute…now imagine multiplying that by a number of people, even if a small number of groups…the effect can be massive! It’s not just the physical contribution we make by providing blankets, food, etc…it’s the hope and courage we give to such people to get on with their lives knowing there is a better tomorrow out there!
So the next time you see someone destitute on the street in your city take a minute to think of that veil that has been hovering over your conscious; open up to the power and influence which is in each one of you! One minute of your assistance will help fortify a helpless person for a lifetime!
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