Today we mark Mandela Day and celebrate the birthday of President Nelson Mandela. Mandela Day is usually a day on which people around the country and around the world roll up their sleeves and help out in their communities for 67 minutes. This year, in the midst of a pandemic, it might not be possible to physically be present to help out, but the need in our communities for support, kindness and assistance has never been greater.
Mandela Day should not just be about getting involved for 67 minutes on one day a year- but it should act as a reminder that we should all be actively seeking ways to help our fellow humans every day. South Africa is faced with many complex challenges right now that need us all to work together, if we are to be successful at solving them.
This year, as the country battles COVID-19, my wife Tracy and I decided to support the drive to ensure that we can get masks to as many residents in our province as possible.
I am still in isolation at home, and therefore made a donation to the Masks for Madiba drive, in collaboration with Wesgro's Maskathon Challenge. By yesterday afternoon, we had collected pledges for over 23 000 masks since we launched the Masks for Madiba campaign earlier this week. This is a phenomenal effort and I must thank everyone who has donated so far.
For those who would still like to become involved- it is not too late. You can still log on to https://maskathon.co.za/masksformadiba/ and
make a pledge. We would love to be able to reach a target of at least 67 000 masks in Mandela month.
CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris said: "I am proud to be part of an effort that has taken up the challenge to raise 67 000 masks for those who need it most. The response has been significant, and I urge everyone in the Western Cape and the country to rally behind the Masks for Madiba initiative and help make a difference. As Nelson Mandela once said, 'It is in your hands to make our world a better one for all'".
I recognise that this is a difficult time for many and making donations may not be possible. For those people who are not able to donate, wearing a mask is in itself an act of kindness, which can help to protect the most vulnerable in society.
There are many other ways to show kindness, help out in your community or to be an active citizen today and every day that do not cost anything:
-Wear your mask in public and ensure that you keep your 1.5 metre distance from any other person when you go outside.
-Offer to assist the elderly or those with underlying illnesses in your family or community by doing their shopping on their behalf so they don't have to expose themselves to additional risk.
-Choose to support a small business in your area when shopping, recommending them to friends and family or giving them a good review on social media.
-Volunteer to help prepare soup and meals at one of the many organisations and soup kitchens providing meals across the province.
-Show kindness and gratitude to healthcare workers in your community, at healthcare facilities and in public places.
Finally, I would like to thank all of the thousands of people who have embodied the spirit of selflessness since the start of this pandemic. The lockdown has created an urgent need in many of our communities, and the number of individuals, businesses, NGOs and community organisations that have come together to respond to this need has been phenomenal. To every single person who has reached out to help, whether it be by volunteering in our healthcare system, making and distributing meals, making donations- whether it be of PPE, masks, or medical equipment, food, money, warm clothing and blankets- we say thank you.
I would also like to pay special tribute to our healthcare workers and all of those people on the front line- teachers, law enforcement, social workers, and the people that contribute to making our society a better place simply by going to work each day, and serving their communities with commitment, heart and care for all the days of the year.