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Nelson Mandela Day – 18 July 2018

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African politician and activist. On April 27, 1994, he was made the first President of South Africa elected in a fully represented democratic election. Mandela was also the first black President of his country, South Africa. I had the privilege, as a 10 year old girl, to watch Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in Pretoria with my family. I remember the day vividly, and remember being lifted onto the shoulders of one of the tallest South African men I’d ever seen in order to get a better view of the festivities. There were over a million people in front of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and the sheer positivity, exuberance and hope through the crowd was palpable. Luckily my father has some photographs of this day, a day that would change my life, even the life of a young blonde South African girl from a wealthy family in Johannesburg. The day would change all of our lives, and the future of this magnificent country forever.

Nelson Mandela’s government focused on throwing out the legacy of apartheid by ending racism, poverty, inequality, and on improving racial understanding in South Africa. Politically a believer in socialism, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997 and adopted new Constitution of South African in 1996 that prohibits all discrimination, based on language, religion, handicap and sexual orientation, not only on racism. To this day the constitution of South Africa remains one of the most radical, progressive and democratic in the free world.

Mandela received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Soviet Order of Lenin. He is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata ("Father"). Mandela was described as a hero, and his actions gave thousands of people hope.

The secret to the ideals that Nelson Mandela lived by, lie in the fact that not one man, woman or child on this planet is alone. That we all need to stand together, work together, support each other, laughing, crying and celebrating together the successes and triumphs of humanity. Its only when we stand together will be truly manage great things. He brought these ideals into his views on social and democratic change. But also on his views of the treatment of animals, the elderly and the protection of our environment. Nelson Mandela became a beacon of hope to all South Africans, and to leaders and organizations around the world, that fight daily for the freedom and care of others.

At Good Hope Volunteers we are driven by these ideals, driven by the belief that we all have an outlet to help others. We might not be Nelson Mandela, but we certainly can try. We as individuals, can fight the larger fight, defend the defenseless and support those in need. And when the sun sets on our experiences we can stand tall and proud that we have done all we can to make a positive change in this world. No matter how large or how small it may be. I asked a number of our volunteers this week, what Nelson Mandela means to them how he still inspires and how his legacy still creates change in all of us. What follows are some quotes and ideals that our young volunteers, from all around the world have taken from this incredible man’s life story, and how he still inspires us daily.

Dani Arraes: "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." I am known to be a fearless girl, but the truth is that there is no fearless person in this world, everyone is afraid of something. What makes a people courageous or not is the way he/she faces his/her fear, and Mandela thought me that it is always good to be strong and face the "monsters" no matter how scary they seem to be. 

Luciana Bernardo quoting Tata Mandela: "There can be no greater gift than that of giving ones time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return."

Paulo Martini: "Nelson Mandela, Tata, was not only a leader of a movement against racial segregation, he was an exemplary concept of humanity, to be followed and admired. His struggle was not in vain, his words always echoed through time, his teachings will always inspire. Showing us all, that human beings go far beyond being an inhabitant of planet earth and that love and compassion, and empathy above all are fundamental to sustaining peace between all people. Even against many adversities, love will always win the war."

So during the build-up to Mandela Day (July 18 2018) read more about this incredible man, learn his story and be surprised by the life of this incredibly memorable leader and the father of the New South Africa. And perhaps, when all seems too heavy of a burden to bare, and when the darkness starts creeping in to an idea of which you are incredibly passionate, take a step forward instead of back, keep your chin up and hold out a hand to defend a goal worth fighting for.

Thank you to all of our volunteers who keep working and pioneering the light. You inspire me daily, and I am incredible blessed to be a part of your journey.

Vanessa Randon

To be part of our amazing volunteer community, please contact us.