How to support Mandela Day on 18 July

South Africans across the country come together on 18 July to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday, a day designated as Mandela Day. Usually, people give 67 minutes of their time to doing good, one minute for every year of Mandela’s 67-year long service to the country and humankind. 

The Mandela Day movement is a “celebration of our collective power to create a global movement for good and make a positive impact on the world.” Taking action against poverty is the core mandate.

In November 2009, the United Nations declared 18 July Nelson Mandela International Day. The idea was sparked by Madiba himself who in a speech as part of his 90th birthday celebrations, called on “new hands” to carry on his legacy and “fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation.”

Today, the Mandela Day network encourages efforts to not be a once-off, celebrated with 67 minutes only of doing a good deed, but rather encourages sustainable efforts to take action against poverty. Citizens are encouraged to take steps, no matter how small, to make a positive difference every day to emulate the servant-hearted leadership of Madiba.

This year, more people than ever are fighting poverty. It may not be possible to do many initiatives in person however there are still ways you can make a difference, by making a donation or giving of your time if social distancing allows. 

Here are a few ideas on how you can spend your 67 minutes this year:

  • Join one of the Breadline Africa challenges from your home – there is a sandwich castle challenge, fundraising kids workout challenge and 67 seconds ‘Madiba Jive’ Madiba dance-off. 
  • Buy a coffee for a healthcare worker.
  • Donate to FoodForwardSA – you can feed one person every day for a year with a donation of R255.
  • Donate to Pick n Pay’s Feed the Nation relief fund – donate at checkout, online or donate your Smart Shopper points in-store or on the app. Many other retailers and malls have donation points in-store where you can donate non-perishable food items and other toiletries.
  • Buy groceries for an elderly neighbour or family in need.
  • Make reusable face masks to gift to the vulnerable.
  • Knit blankets, scarves and other warm clothing.
  • Put together stationery packs for under-resourced schools.
  • Donate clothes (especially warm winter clothing), toys or food items to a night shelter, local children’s home or similar. For example, Cape Town’s the Haven Night Shelter takes donations of non-perishable food, toiletries, sanitisers, masks and cleaning material or take one of their challenges to support, share or donate. Find your local night shelter on Facebook and see how you can support. 
  • Go through your home from top to bottom and collect everything that could be donated to someone who may desperately need it.
  • Make care kits for patients at government hospitals (think toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, facecloth, etc).
  • Donate blood – Blood donation clinics are open with strict protocols in place to ensure your safety.
  • Recovered COVID-19 patients can donate their plasma as a potential treatment therapy for patients hospitalised with the virus. The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is collecting convalescent plasma for a national trial, one of the few international blood transfusion services embarking on this research. 
  • Register as an organ donor.

Before beginning any of the above-mentioned activities, or arriving to donate, be sure to call ahead and check what is urgently needed, if the organisation will be allowed to accept the donation and any other COVID-19 protocols that may be in place. 

Start with just 67 minutes and think how those could be turned into longlasting and sustainable steps to fight poverty together. 

Do you know someone that makes a positive difference, not just on Mandela Day but throughout the year? Share on social media using the hashtags #Actionagainstpoverty #MandelaDay. For more ideas visit the MandelaDay website.

What are you doing to make every day a Mandela Day?