Mandela Day inspires action #ActionAgainstPoverty

Hippo Roller Mandela Day collage

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“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

Nelson Mandela was speaking during the launch of the ‘Make Poverty History’ Campaign in Trafalgar Square, London, in February 2005. They’re words that inspire action and they underpin the ethos of what it means to make a difference in the lives of others.

Nelson Mandela International Day commemorates the lifetime of service Nelson Mandela gave to South Africa and the world. It was launched on his birthday, 18 July, in 2009 via a unanimous decision by the UN General Assembly.

“It is in your hands to make of the world a better place,” he said a year earlier, calling on the younger generation to take up this task.

Mandela Day calls on us all, every day, to make the world a better place. Each year on 18 July we look back on what has been done, and forward to what will be done.

Looking back: a personal appeal

The Hippo Roller has been changing lives for decades. Back in the early- to mid-1990s, after being exposed to the immediate and certain impact of the Hippo Roller, Nelson Mandela himself appealed to business to get involved in what was, even then, a national crisis: improving access to water.

In a letter distributed widely at the time, Mandela said, “A personal appeal is made to your organisation to actively support a national project which will positively change the lives of millions of our fellow South Africans.”

In spite of this, the state of basic service delivery in rural South Africa remains desperate. Statistics South Africa’s “Access to water services” Community Survey 2016 data, suggests that whilst approximately nine-tenths (89,8%) of households in South Africa used piped water as their main source of drinking water, just 44% of them retrieved water inside the dwelling, more than 30% from taps outside in their yards. 1,9% retrieved it from a neighbour’s tap, 13,5% accessed water from a communal tap, and 4,3% of households still relied on water from unsafe sources such as rivers, streams, wells or springs.

Clearly, there is much work still to be done.

Looking ahead: simple ideas, changing lives

Says Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation Sello Hatang, “Today allows us to recommit ourselves to taking action and inspiring change so that we can make every day a Mandela Day.”

“As we go out to plant gardens, build houses or feed pupils, we must know that it does not stop there; July 18 is the start of taking action, not the end.”

“We want South Africans and people around the world to commit to long-term, sustainable projects that will tackle poverty,” says Hatang.

The Foundation has adopted the message #ActionAgainstPoverty this year as a firm call to take action towards meaningful intervention in the lives of those facing poverty and inequality in our society on a daily basis.

“Poverty and inequality are eroding the foundations of the democratic and just society that Madiba fought so hard to establish, and for which he laid the building blocks. Unless we tackle poverty, on a sustained and committed basis, Nelson Mandela’s dream of a better life for all will remain just a pipe dream,” says Hatang.

Youthzones & #TheBigRedRun

A perfect example of this call to action, has been David Barnard’s recent participation in the Big Red Run through Australia’s Simpson Desert, a 6-day, 250km desert run in which he finished 5th overall.

A veteran of multi-stage desert foot races in remote parts of the world since 2010 – from the Kalahari, Namib and Sahara Deserts in Africa, to the Gobi Desert in China, the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Grand Canyon in the United states, and the most extreme of them all, The Last Desert Race in 2014 in Antarctica –  David’s #BigRedRun project campaign sought to raise awareness and funds for the distribution of Hippo Rollers to those struggling with water access in South Africa. Together with the inimitable YouthZones, David’s initiative is set to change the lives of the people of Hammanskraal.

David Barnard Hammanskraal
Hippo Rollers doing the rounds in Hammanskraal.

Making every day a Mandela Day celebrates Madiba’s life and legacy in a sustainable way that will bring about enduring change.

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