For many South Africans, 18 July is one of the most special and inspirational days of the year. Established in 2009, Mandela Day honours the legacy of Nelson Mandela (who spent 67 years fighting for social justice) by asking South Africans to dedicate 67 minutes to making a difference in their communities.
For young people, the day is more than a history lesson on this great leader; it is an opportunity to learn how to be active citizens, and see how even seemingly small acts of generosity can bring about meaningful change.
Coming together while social distancing
From personal health implications and loss of loved ones, to the devastating economic impact of the lockdown, all South Africans have felt the far-reaching effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. While this is a time for social distancing, it is also a time for standing together and supporting each other.
There are many ways that you, as a teacher or parent, can inspire change and teach young people about this social responsibility while maintaining social distancing.
Here are our top 10 ideas:
1. Run a stationery drive
There are many schools and students who are battling with stationery supplies. If you’re in the privileged position of having access to these items, consider running a collection drive at your school and donating to schools in need.
2. Write letters to the aged
With many older people being cooped up at home, or in old-age homes that aren’t allowing visitors due to virus concerns, a good old-fashioned letter can go a long way to spreading some cheer. This is an easy activity for kids of any age since anything you send – from anecdotes to artwork – will be appreciated.
3. Clean up
Have a look around your community. Are there areas that could do with a clean-up? A bit of time spent collecting litter or removing graffiti would help your entire neighbourhood. Just be sure to take Covid-19 precautions, especially if you’re touching litter, and sanitise properly afterwards.
4. Fundraise for a cause
There are so many charities in need of financial support. Why not pick a cause that means something to you and run an online fundraiser? Raise money via Facebook or through a fundraising service like BackABuddy.co.za, and make a real difference to an important cause.
5. “Buy a Bed”
Support the homeless with the “Buy a bed” campaign. Organisations such as The Haven Night Shelter – who currently have 15 night shelters – are encouraging communities to cover individual’s shelter fees for the first 5 nights . Donating to this cause is as easy as SnapScanning on their site: R60 will give someone warmth, a bed and food for 5 nights.
6. Donate blood and/or register as an organ donor
Teachers, parents, and young people over the age of 16 can donate blood. According to the South African National Blood Service (SANBS), a unit of blood can save up to three lives. Students too young to donate blood can still learn about its importance, as well as how organ donation works. Anyone who is in good health and is clear of certain chronic diseases can register as a possible donor.
7. Educate yourself on social justice
Whether it is improving your understanding of feminism, the legacies of apartheid, LGBTQ pride, the Black Lives Matter Movement, animal rights, or the fight against gender-based violence, there is always much to learn. Spend some dedicated time engaging with these topics – your interactions with others will be richer for it.
8. Share your skills
We all have a talent or skill we can share. Mow an elderly neighbour’s grass, tutor someone in your home language, set up a website for a non-profit organisation, or teach someone how to use a computer and/or the internet.
9. Make a care kit
From the Handbag Project, to the Grace Factory, there are many organisations that rely on donations of toiletries and care items to help people in a crisis. Depending on the age of your students, this is also an opportunity to teach young people about significant issues facing our society, and how we all can help.
10. Spread the word about Mandela Day
Teaching others about the meaning behind Mandela Day is an important way to inspire more people to make a meaningful difference in their communities. Head to MandelaDay.com to learn more about the annual celebration and get more ideas for what you can do.