Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Changing the world: It's the small things that count

During my more naive and idealistic years, I thought that studying law could enable me to help make a dent of change in the world. Then a visit to one of the magistrates courts slapped me back to reality. Two years later, Jurisprudence (the philosophy of law) discussions put into words what I had witnessed in the court that day:
- the legal system ultimately only assisted the affluent
- the South African Constitution is a great written work but too ideal to implement effectively
- lawyers, judges, attorneys, advocates, prosecutors... they were all human and swayed by human flaws
- justice was just a matter of perception... undefinable

To be honest, my path into the world of journalism was not a planned one but it made me see more instant effects. I'm not the all-caring all-for-change happy floaty person who hands R100 notes to beggars and I don't pretend to be nor do I preach about helping others. However seeing it and being able to do something does make me smile.

In the first couple of months of my life as a journalist I wrote an article about refugees and a week later I received a call from the refugee that I spoke to, pastor Matabaro, calling me to visit the Old Prison in Pietermaritzburg immediately. I went there, a tad annoyed for being pulled away from my scheduled day, only to find masses of refugees collecting food. A person from a church had read my article and now donates food monthly to help out all the refugees. "You did that!" the pastor had said to me that day.
Refugees happily accept their packets with one
month's supply of food

I've written about many non-profit organisations in my last nine months of working for a newspaper. All of them doing good for the community in their own special way. Recently, a women repeated those three words to me after her project had received some funding.

"You did that!" she said.

It never means as much to me as it does to them. I'm merely doing my job. I have little control over what goes into the newspaper and what doesn't and sometimes, I wish I cared more. (I blame studying law for killing all empathy in me, despite me only studying it for two years).

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post on how easy it would be to make a change using modern technology. Today we witness instantaneous alerts about the earthquake in Japan, the nuclear power plant explosions and other countries that may be affected by it. The devastation is broadcast everywhere (except maybe Libya... but that's not because they don't care!), and people are calling to help globally.

In that light, here are some of the non-profit projects that I have written about that are making small but great changes in society (their details are at the bottom of the linked articles).

- Commodes for young children with Cerebral Palsy: Because dignity is one of the key human rights in the South African Constitution. These commodes assist in toilet-training young children with disabilities in rural areas. While commodes are not new, the design is. It's wooden, stable, easy to move and can be used outside. The design is soon to be made available freely for others to extend the project independently... and hopefully it will end up helping anyone who may need it; old or young.

- A baby safe in KZN (follow up article): Because young babies are abandoned and left to die almost every day and here's someone who's willing to look after the 'unwanted burden' free of charge and without complaint. Babies are innocent. Urgh! I understand unwanted pregnancies and financial burdens, but you don't leave the little bundle in a garbage bin.

- Free Rehab for drug addicts and alcoholics: Because substance abuse is increasing rapidly and it affects every aspect of life and change. It plays a role in the increase of crime, domestic violence, poverty and road accidents, hence affecting everyone of us.

- Refugees in PMB (of course): Because life for them is already hard enough.

Just a few years ago, a crisis occuring somewhere across of our countries borders seemed like little concern because there was little that we could do to help. But now, the world is at our fingertips. Change is at out fingertips. And no matter how small the gesture, every bit counts (kinda like voting ;)


Duvane Moodley said...

nice! I struggle with the same issues. My heart breaks for the needy. Something as simple as an old lady carrying bags of groceries and walking distances with it, hurts me. We all try to do our own little part, justified by our emotions and circumstances.

What angers me like no other, is INJUSTICE. From the smallest scale, like simple things in the work place, to criminal justice. My favourite comic book hero- The Punisher. I like that he brings justice to the world, albeit, as a renegade, and a flawed human being. But he has the right idea. I wish I could put the beat down on some people for their gross injustice on other people. Some people need to be taught a lesson!

We could use a little more justice in this world...

Tharuna said...

Or justified by our own guilt?

LOL let me not start about injustice!! that would take me an entire blog!

I never heard about the punisher *googles* though i did get compared to Spiderman the other day:)

Please dont break into Black Eyed Peas