What do you do with 67 minutes? For many people in South Africa, it is the time it might take to fetch the daily water from a communal water point, or the time taken to walk to school, or the extra minutes to your morning because you have to take several taxis to work. For people who live prosperous lives, it is difficult to imagine a life where 67 minutes is filled with striving to stay alive and employed and not just the time taken to visit the gym, or eat in a restaurant. I am not suggesting that more fortunate people don’t put in effort to their lives. Of course they do. They just have the added ease of switching on lights, turning taps, hopping into cars and having access to quality education.
When volunteers think they might like to join Lesedi, they go through an orientation session which includes a rigorous, thought-provoking debate about the sustainability of charitable endeavours. Is tree planting an extra burden on a community where every drop of water has to be physically fetched from a tanker? Are blanket donations, while fabulous in the cold weather, really fixing the bigger problem of poverty? One of the things we talk about in these sessions is the importance of sustainability and commitment. If we expect our children and their families to be committed to turning up every Saturday, then our volunteers need to model that behaviour. I am not suggesting that we are expected to turn up every Saturday, but once we are committed we need to be very clear about how many Saturdays we can commit to. Our children need to see that we are as dedicated as they are. They need enthusiastic cheer leaders who can lift them up and put them on an education path that leads away from poverty.
This year we established that our senior crew of grade 10 and 11 students all have access to phones. They are now connected to their teachers on Whatsapp. Even during the school holidays we can connect and answer question. Using this medium have challenged them to do something that goes “above and beyond” the normal every week in the hopes we can grow this initiative to more than once a week. We call it our A&B s and we are continually pushing them to think about helping others. We teachers also tell them what our A&Bs have been and I have to admit, sometimes it is difficult to achieve. Consciously going above and beyond is difficult.
Mandela Day counts as one big A&B for most people. How about extending it?
Do more that 67 minutes every year.
Do more that one day every year.