July 18th marks the 95th birthday of a world server, a good soul, a man for whom the Yiddish word ‘mensch’ would be an apt description. As recently as a few weeks, ago the world was holding vigil in anticipation of his passing, but I am gratified to witness that Nelson Mandela is still on this side of the veil, and from what I have read, regaining strength even while hospitalized. Today is also known as Mandela Day.
According to the website Mandela Day:
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. “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”
Individuals and organisations are free to participate in Mandela Day as they wish. We do however urge everyone to adhere to the ethical framework of “service to one’s fellow human”.
Following the success of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park in June 2008, it was decided that there could be nothing more fitting than to celebrate Mr. Mandela’s birthday each year with a day dedicated to his life’s work and that of his charitable organisations, and to ensure his legacy continues forever.
The Mandela Day campaign message is simple: Mr. Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. All we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community.
Mandela Day is a call to action for individuals – for people everywhere – to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr. Mandela did.”
Until a few years ago, for me, Nelson Mandela was a world leader; a political figure whose courage and compassion shone a light on the darkness of institutionalized hatred. When I met Philadelphia based South African musician Sharon Katz whose band Sharon Katz and the Peace Train brings African music to the world, he became a bit more personal, since although we have never spoken (I would have loved to have interviewed him), I felt a ‘one degree of separation’ connection. Sharon sings about him and has sung for him. This is a lovely picture at his 75th birthday party.
On Mandela Day, we are asked to devote that hour and 7 minutes to be of service. One way that I am choosing to do that is to use my social work brain and research employment opportunities for a man I met yesterday. I was leaving the parking lot of a local supermarket with 4 cloth bags filled with groceries. I saw someone who looked to be in his 50’s standing in the 90 something degree heat bearing a sign that said he would work for food or money to support his family. Looking weathered and surprisingly out of place in this suburban area, I stopped, handed him $10 and then asked what type of work he was looking for. He told me that he and his family had just moved to the area and he could do handyman work. He said he had transportation and then wrote his number on a piece of paper. If a bit of my time, doing what I have done for clients over the years could assist a family, then it is well worth that investment.
Viva Mandela! Thank you for setting an example for us all~
http://youtu.be/7QM0xSuOJ5c Video about Mandela Day