For the past quarter of a century I’ve been sharing the importance of forgiveness and how it can make a difference in someone’s life. Five years ago, I was able to fulfill one of my bucket list items by going to South Africa and visiting the house where Nelson Mandela once lived with his family, walked the roads he once traveled and even looked into the very cell he once occupied on Robben Island. Breathing in the air of the Motherland was life giving and learning more about the man who lived out the meaning of forgiveness will stay with me for the rest of my life.
In 1999 the Nelson Mandela Foundation was formed with a focus on contributing to making just societies by mobilizing the legacy of the life and work of Mr. Mandela. Mandela Day is celebrated on July 18th in commemoration of his birthday. The initiative is to call on us to help make the world a better place. This year the theme is focused around “Action Against Poverty.” The Foundation feels that we need to restore and reaffirm the dignity of the people of Africa and throughout the globe by doing our part to help end the cycle of poverty. Poverty is not only a problem in South Africa, and is not relegated to only African or “third world” countries; it is also a major problem right here in the United States.
Nelson Mandela followed three rules throughout his life: free yourself, free others and serve every day. This was his life and he lived it out with purpose. The Foundation believes the call to action is clear: we must take action, inspire change and make every day a Mandela Day. We can all contribute to making a difference right where we are by stepping up to the challenge that we know exists. We must all do our part in helping to make this world a better place for us and for future generations. If we look around, we see the sadness of homelessness and how it is on the rise. There are many to help and get involved with helping to eradicate this plight. If you don’t have time you can donate money, if you don’t have money there’s something you have or have access to that can make a difference.
I recently returned from West Africa where I had the opportunity to visit the Republic of Ghana, also known as the Gold Coast. It is located off the Atlantic Ocean where captive Africans were sold and sent off into slavery across the globe. While traveling across this beautiful land I saw a devastating level of poverty, and yet the people were very dignified; the way they walked and carried themselves was strong, and they made me feel proud as a Black woman. Even with this positive reflection I knew they were suffering and needed help to pour into their community for their children and their children’s children. I was moved to action.
As we reflect on what this day means, honoring the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, also known as Madiba, let’s do our part in the gardens where we are planted by taking action and doing as much as we can to inspire change. Let’s free ourselves, free others and become servants by helping uplift the lives of others. Nelson Mandela said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” #MandelaDay #ActionAgainstPoverty
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