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by Sholain Govender-Bateman, Pretoria based journalism lecturer who worked for The Star, Pretoria  News & other  publications. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry. Visit her on twitter @sholain.

“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, to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr Mandela did.” Mandela Day website. https://www.mandeladay.com/static/what-is-mandela-day

Raising my children in a society where they have little or no concept of racial segregation makes it challenging to explain the significance of Nelson Mandela’s actions without which they would probably not have been born.

Harder still is choosing a way in which a four-year-old and 20-month-old can learn to be charitable and contribute positively to their world and community.

Being part of Mandela Day and committing to 67 minutes of service shouldn’t be a chore for anyone and it doesn’t require lots of money or skill.  This is what I’m planning:

  • Do a bit of gardening with my girls and use their very own veggie patch as a tool for them to learn how to nurture something and the value of investing time and energy into something.
  • baking a cake for Madiba with my girls and then send the cake to pre-school with Isobel so that she can share it with her friends.
  • sorting the girls baby clothes and donating those we no longer need to a charity, Isobel may not  understand the act of donating her old clothes to other children,  so that’s what we can talk about.

Most importantly, the ‘67 minutes of service’ should not be a once-off. It’s a bit hypocritical if people set out to do something magnificent on that one day in honour of Madiba but spend the rest of the year being self-centered. Maybe you can spend time reflecting on how you can change your life or attitude – through recycling, reading to your kids, being nicer to co-workers, not littering, stop smoking…- so that you can have a long-lasting positive impact on yourself, your environment and your kids?

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