Mandela Day 2017 inspires volunteerism

The late South African President Nelson Mandela.
Associated Press / Pool-Theana Calitz-Bilt, Pool

“It is time for the next generations to continue our struggle against social injustice and for the rights of humanity. It is in your hands.”

– Nelson Mandela

Anyone who made “someone else’s day by simply saying ‘thank you’ on July 18 subscribed to a message Nelson Mandela amplified when he was voted the very, first Black president of South Africa.

The simple gesture of appreciation is among a long list of acts of kindness endorsed by the United Nations in 2009 to mark the July 18, 1918 birth date of the former freedom fighter who dedicate his life’s work to changing the world for the better.

“It can be as easy as taking a security guard a cup of coffee or helping your kids draw a thank you card for their teacher or librarian random acts of kindness never go unnoticed.”

Other suggestions for honoring the hero included yielding to another car in traffic, offer a seat to someone when travelling on public transport, encouraging a colleague at work, helping the homeless, volunteering at a pet shelter, and above all participants were advised to “be kind in any way you can.”

Heeded by millions of milennials, Generaton Xers, Baby-boomers and witnesses to apartheid they executed the message by uniting to volunteer and perform gestures which may seem small but hopefully had rippling effects.

From Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Soweto and Durban in South Africa to Mumbai, India, London, England, Ireland, Pakistan, Scotland, Switzerland, Dubai and here in New York City, the theme resonated to “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”

Individuals and groups participated in animal rescue, donated clothing and goods to goodwill organizations, acknowledged the service of military personnel, firefighters and police, donated books to libraries, volunteered service to the aged and even acknowledged the historic date during concerts etc.

Stephen “Cat” Coore, lead singer of reggae, super-group Third World gave a ‘shout-out’ during his concert.

Mandela Day is more than a celebration of “Mandela’s life and legacy, it is a global movement to take his life’s work into a new era and change our world for the better. The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere.”

The international day of philanthropy was inspired by Mandela’s speech on June 27, 2008 — (during his 90th birthday celebration) in Hyde Park, London.

In his address, he called on the leaders of all nations to help change the world for the better.

“It’s in your hands now,” he urged.

It is a day to honor the legacy of Mandela and his values, through volunteering and community service. The day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an impact.

He was an anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who was imprisoned for 27 years and was able to win the approval of a majority of his people during a democratic election process where he was declared the president.

He served from 1994 to 1999.

During his administration, his government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality and fostering racial reconciliation.

Mandela died in 2013.

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