Want to make a difference in your community? Claire Barnardo shows you how to get involved.
To change the world you don’t need to make big gestures. Simply do one good act at a time, and you can set great things in motion and be an example to others.
Charity does begin at home. Start by sorting through your cupboards. Collect any clothes, shoes, or appliances that you haven’t used in the last year and that are still in good working condition. Contact your local charity organisation and donate them to a better cause. Get your kids involved and ask them to put aside any toys and books they no longer love, to give to an orphanage or hospital unit.
- Bin it
The next step is to get involved in recycling your refuse. Remember this slogan: reduce, reuse, recycle. All you need to do is set up a simple set of dustbins at home. You can label or colour-code them according to what is stored in them: paper, glass, tin, and plastic. Make sure you rinse out the containers before you recycle them. Then when your bins are full, drop them off at a collection site in your area.
- Helping hand
Why not volunteer your time to organisations that need extra help? Whether it’s serving food, visiting an orphanage or old-age home, or sharing your special skills, you will be adding to your community hands-on. Encourage your children to get involved in any community projects at school.
- Plant a tree
The best way to reduce your impact on the environment is to find something that absorbs carbon dioxide and turns it into oxygen. You know what that means? Plant a tree! Studies show that it takes 16 trees to supply the oxygen for one person’s life, depending on the size and lifespan of the trees, and the lifestyle and carbon footprint of the person.
Need a quick fix?
- Save electricity – did you know that tumble dryers use the most electricity? Use fresh air and sunshine to dry your clothes whenever possible.
- Pick up litter in your neighbourhood and encourage your neighbours to do the same.
- Support your local shops and buy fresh fruit and vegetables as locally as possible.
Here are some great ways to celebrate all things South African, by Charis Le Riche.
Food, glorious food
One thing you have to say about South Africans: we know how to cook. Not only have we mastered the art of international cuisine, but our local dishes are a hit too.
In Durban you have the humble bunny chow (a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry); in the Cape it’s the Gatsby (a super sandwich sold as a footlong roll or in quarters); for those with a sweet tooth there’s the koeksister – Cape Malay style (traditionally balls of cooked potato, fried, soaked in syrup and covered in coconut) or Afrikaans-style (deep-fried plaited dough soaked in syrup). And for those who are more adventurous, there’s a township delicacy – the smiley: a cooked sheep’s head.
Say hello in 11 languages
SA is so diverse and varied that we have 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Because of this, you’ll find that most South Africans speak at least two languages. There are unofficial languages also recognised by the constitution: the Khoi, San and Nama languages, sign language, Portuguese, Hindi and indigenous creoles. We also have our own slang that can be a little confusing to outsiders (like the use of “shame” which can be applied in any situation – good or bad), but is very useful once mastered. Especially knowing the difference between “now”, “now now” and “just now”!
Every activity under the sun
South Africa is one of the few places where you can enjoy the perks of city living and country life all in one place. You can go shopping at world-class boutiques and then hike up Table Mountain within 20 minutes. We are spoiled with some of the finest wildlife reserves full of the Big 5 and more. For adrenaline junkies, there’s abseiling, sky diving, bungee jumping and even diving with Great White sharks. While those who want something more laidback will find plenty of wine farms, festivals and markets to choose from.
SA offers the world in one place. We’ve got rolling mountains, pristine oceans, roaring rivers and breathtaking urban cityscapes. And we’re blessed with some of the world’s most stunning landscapes: from the peaks of the Drakensberg on the border of Lesotho and the lush Tsitsikamma forests in the Eastern Cape, to the reef of Sodwana Bay and Limpopo’s Lake Fundudzi. This country is filled with wonders like God’s Window and the Blyde River Canyon (on the border of Mpumalanga and Limpopo province), Table Mountain in the Cape and the Valley of Desolation in the Eastern Cape.
The braai and the shisa nyama
And, of course, last but not least – our passion for braais! Though most of the world enjoys this activity, calling it a BBQ, South Africans have made the braai a national pastime and we even spend our Heritage Day celebrating it (in Braai Day style). In townships there’s nothing like a shisa nyama – if you’re looking for one, keep an ear out for the sound of music, laughter and plenty of conversation.
Like every country, South Africa has its challenges. But we also have a lot to be proud of… And what better time to celebrate than right now.
Want to get involved in the diabetes community? Here’s what you can do.
5 Steps to starting your own support group:
If you don’t have a support group in your area and you want to start one, here’s what you need to do!
- Spread the word: tell everyone you know with diabetes in your area, post on our Facebook page and blog, and put up notices in the community and even in the local newspaper.
- Find a suitable space that you can hold the meetings (for free).
- Find a diabetes educator or a clinic sister who can be at each meeting to answer questions.
- Get some diabetic-friendly snacks and free Sweet Life magazines.
- Meet once a month to support each another.
And finally, educate others too! Sometimes getting involved is as easy as being honest about diabetes.
Let us know (in the comments) if you’ve started a support group, and we’ll spread the word on the Diabetic South Africans Facebook page.