Unity representing strength stands in direct contrast to the concept of divide and rule.
In the unforgettable words of Madiba himself:
“Unity in Diversity" is a phrase we use often in South Africa, which is also a country of widely diverse peoples and cultures. These differences were misused by apartheid in order to divide our nation. But today our diversity is a source of strength. We are a nation of many colours and cultures, but forming a harmonious unity like a rainbow after a heavy storm.”
Giving back some humanity
The elderly of any nation most deserve our support and generosity of spirit. It is they who have worked tirelessly to give us, their children, whatever comforts, privileges and opportunities they could to help us fulfil our dreams. It is imperative that we return the favour. With Madiba Day around the corner (18th July), now is the time to examine our consciences and ensure that we are giving in return to honour Mandela’s memory and the elderly in both our personal lives or in society at large.
Why we should
The reasons we should feel responsible and inclined to give back are legion. Consider the following:
- It is they, as parents, who gave us the invaluable gift of a good value system, for they taught us the most important things in life: how to share, accept others, practice forgiveness and love. They passed down the morals and principles to enable us to distinguish between right and wrong.
- They were the foundation of our support, ensuring that all our basic needs were met.
- Of any nation, it is the elders who have more knowledge and experience than the rest of us. The trials and tribulations of their lives can offer more meaningful learning than any textbook can. We need to take the time to listen to these pearls of wisdom.
- Though we might disappoint them, their love for us as their children is unconditional.
- We were the major motivating force for all the sacrifices they made, often at great personal cost, to ensure our wellbeing and future success.
- Feelings of vulnerability, uncertainty, loneliness and fear accompany old age. The elderly do not deserve to be rewarded with such suffering after all they have done for others.
- Setting an example to our children of how to honour those who so richly deserve it, will hopefully mean that they will follow it in relations to us. Remember: each one of us will one day be elderly, too.
How to give back
If you need help with ideas for centres near you, the easiest source is simply to Google Associations or Centres for the Aged, and to peruse their provided wish-lists for donations needed. Of course, Madiba day offers countless ways in the best way by far: giving of your time. Most centres will also provide a list of activities with which volunteers can help. No specialised qualifications are required. These are examples of how you can assist:
- Offer to take residents for walks.
- Read to them.
- Simply ask them about themselves and listen to them.
- Sort donations in the second-hand shops.
- Help with cooking meals.
- Offer practical help in the library, the kiosk and the games and exercise rooms, if such exist.
- You can assist with mending clothes, with fixing items, with art or handcrafts.
- You can make or knit garments to give, or cook and bake at home to deliver treats.
- If you do have specialised skills to share, like playing a musical instrument or simply singing or dancing for them, such entertainment will be gratefully received.Any other skills like teaching them about gardening, sewing, knitting, making
- Any other skills like teaching them about gardening, sewing, knitting, making craft from recycled material, or the rules of board and card games, can improve their lives immeasurably. Helping them to master basic technological skills so that they can enjoy the internet or their cell phone more fully, would be valued equally. By doing so you empower the elderly who often feel at a loss or bored. You fill their future hours with tranquillity, meaning and a sense of purpose, and this can only leave you feeling enriched by having been of use.
Help the elderly to help yourself
Help others achieve a measure of joy, or even simply contentment, and you will achieve your own. As Mahatma Gandhi, in his infinite wisdom, put it:
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Nelson Mandela was an equally superb example of exactly such humanity. Make him and our diverse nation proud by proving that unity is strength. The motto inscribed in The National Coat of Arms, Unity in Diversity, is written in Khoisan language and it calls for our nation to unite in a common sense of belonging. Let’s go one step further on Madiba Day. Let’s find 67 minutes of our day to donate to the elderly and others in need. Let’s all stand together as one strongly beating heart with a whole lot of love to give. Madiba, with his gently smiling approval, will undoubtedly be right there beside you in spirit.
The Helderberg Society for the Aged
The Helderberg Society for the Aged provides a variety of secure lifestyle options for elderly people in an environment of compassion and care. On Madiba Day, especially, we invite others to contact Lindie Brink at email@example.com to find out how to contribute their time in giving back to the people who deserve and need it most our aged.
We believe life should be lived to the fullest for all the people within our services which encompass Independent Living, Assisted Living, Home Based Care and Frail Care.
Learn more at: www.hsfa.org.za