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Pay It Forward on Mandela Day, July 18th


Nelson Mandela’s incredibly inspirational legacy hardly needs an introduction. Throughout his life the revolutionary philanthropist, activist, and President of South Africa (1994 -1999) never took the easy way out, and did what he thought was right in order to grant freedom to as many people as possible.

Mandela, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and earner of the nickname “Father of Our Nation” in South Africa, was a man of action. Throughout his 67 years his actions helped paved the way for a better future for those living under apartheid in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela

As 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.” The goal of Nelson Mandela International Day, or Mandela Day, is to inspire a new generation of activists by encouraging everyone to volunteer their time and serve their community for at least 67 minutes (to symbolically connect to Mandela’s 67 years of life).

In November of 2009 the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously voted to declare July 18th (Mandela’s birthday) “Nelson Mandela International Day” in honor of his lifetime commitment to cultivating freedom and peace in society. The day is intended as an international day of collaboration and change to better the world we live in.

Noted on Mandela Day’s website, the rules Mandela adhered to during his life were the following: free yourself, free others, and serve every day. Without action, change cannot happen. In order to get those observing Mandela Day beyond words and into the realm of action, Mandela Day’s homepage highlights several actions interested parties can undertake, like planting a tree or donating to fight child sexual abuse.

Mandela also outlined what he believed were unalienable rights. “Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all,” he said. “Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.”

In order to provide for others in the way Mandela describes, one great way to take action on Mandela Day is to donate to organizations working to bring safe, clean drinking water to communities in need. Valuable resources like water are taken for granted in places like America, but around the world many families spend hours a day traveling to reach a possibly tainted supply of water.

On Mandela Day, pay it forward. If you know a family living in an area where a water contamination crisis (like that in Flint, Michigan) is developing, consider donating a water filtration system so they can have access to cleaner water. If we each take a small step on Mandela Day we’ll be that much closer to the world he imagined.

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