With a few days to go until we honour Nelson Mandela on his birthday, 18 July, the Vital Foundation is calling on all South Africans to spend time serving at an organisation fighting woman and child abuse.
The celebration of Mandela Day has become a global call to action for people to recognise their individual power to help change the world for the better. By devoting 67 minutes of their time – one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service – people can take a step towards a global movement for good.
But, adds Yase Godlo, Manager of Mandela Day and Outreach Programmes at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, South Africans also need to take up the challenge of increased and greater involvement. “While many organisations and citizens commit to 67 minutes of service each year, and through this deliver an enormously valuable contribution, we need to be cognisant of the very real need that many volunteer organisations have for support and assistance throughout the year,” he says.
“It’s up to each and every one of us, businesses and individuals alike, to join together in a concerted daily effort to help tackle this issue, which affects not only society but our economy as well,” says George Grieve, managing director of Vital Health Foods, founder of the Vital Foundation, one of South Africa’s first funding and information-sharing bodies for the prevention of woman and child abuse.
Andrea du Plessis, spokesperson of the Vital Foundation, concurs. “In the case of women and child abuse, we won’t defeat this scourge that affects each and every one of us until we succeed in mobilising the whole of our society to fight it – each and every day.”
While ordinary South Africans may feel they have nothing to contribute in the fight against woman and child abuse, everyone can do something: at the very least, if you suspect or are aware of any incidences of abuse, report them to your nearest police station.
“Take an interest in not only your children but the children around you as well, be they in your neighbourhood or the children of your domestic worker,” advises Kevin Barbeau, executive director of WMACA (Women and Men against Child Abuse). “By making a difference in just one child’s life, the ripple effect across that child’s future is enormous, not only with reference to his or her own family one day, but to the economy and society in general.”
Your time, too, is very valuable to volunteer organisations. “As important as the need for donations, funds, food or other items is, never underestimate the value of giving of your time and of yourself,” says Delene Roberts of Sisters Incorporated, a registered NPO and home for abused women and children. “Regular volunteers facilitate not only the smoother and easier functioning of daily operations, such as transport to hospital and court appointments, but, even more importantly, they provide companionship and a source of support during what is a very difficult time.”
Sisters Incorporated offers onsite childcare, and counselling and skills training for women focused on empowering them with the foundation to take their rightful place in society. “The effect on a woman who has left an abusive relationship, and who discovers she has talents and skills she never believed she had, is enormous,” says Roberts. “The growth in her self-esteem and self-worth is immense, and this often leads to her making different choices and changing her life.”
Although the triggers behind domestic abuse are complicated, the breakdown of the family unit and lack of strong male role models are factors. “Not only do more men need to be outspoken against gender violence, but so too, men need to focus on being better role models to all children,” says Barbeau.
Girls also need to be empowered from an early age. “In far too many cultures, boys are raised to believe that they can be anything and everything, and while this is right, what is sad is that girls are often reared to believe in limited opportunities,” adds Barbeau. “We need to be raising our sons and daughters equally, fostering their independence and teaching them to take their rightful, independent and equal place in society.”
Call to action: Register your details on our website by selecting the organization you would like to support.
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