Nelson Mandela Day is an international campaign born from a 2009 United Nations General Assembly declaration to make Nelson Mandela’s July 18 birthday a day for community service. It was inspired by a call Mandela made a year earlier for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now.”

Initially, the campaign urged people worldwide to spend 67 minutes that day helping others, then later shifted to a call to “make every day a Mandela Day,” with actions encouraged along four “pillars”: education and literacy, food security, shelter and volunteering.

Nelson Mandela Day’s Impact on Worldwide Poverty

Inspired by the anti-apartheid politician and philanthropist who was president of South Africa from 1994–1999, Mandela Day is now observed in 149 countries. This year’s campaign has made a strategic shift to increase its impact, switching from the four-pillared approach to a single theme: Action Against Poverty.

Nelson Mandela Foundation’s director of communication and outreach, Luzuko Koti, quoted a study released in 2016 by NGO Ilifa Labantwana, the University of Cape Town’s Children’s Institute, and the Presidency’s Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, when she said, “More than 63% of South African children live in poverty; one in five—12 million—South Africans live in extreme poverty,” which affects these children’s physical, cognitive and emotional development. “Our intention is to eradicate poverty from the face of the Earth. We have to be that bold,” Koti said.

5 Ways You Can Help on Mandela Day—and Every Day

  1. Donate to a project that’s helping to bring clean water to Africa, such as The Water Project or Unicef’s Save Children from Famine campaign. You can also show your support by wearing a Water.Org Bead Relief bracelet.
  2. Donate books and other school supplies to organizations like Books For Africa and Develop Africa, which will then send the supplies to schools in need.
  3. Make a microfinance loan to help create economic opportunities in developing countries. Kiva facilitates loans to people who don’t have access to traditional banking systems and can invest that money in local products or start their own businesses.
  4. Buy from companies that donate a percentage of sales to charities in Africa, such as FEED Projects, which sends a portion of its proceeds to UN World Food Programme and the United Nations Children’s Fund, among others. A $33 T-shirt provides a child with 10 meals; an $80 tote bag will provide one child with a year’s worth of school meals.
  5. Share your actions on social media. Be sure to use #MandelaDay, #ActionAgainstPoverty and #bodhitreelove.

For more ideas on how to participate, visit MandelaDay.com.

Tags: , , , , , ,

About the author

Justine Amodeo is a contributing editor to Bodhi Tree and the editor of Pacific Coast Magazine and Montagemagazine.com. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, and has been a student of Kashmir Shaivism and the Feminine Wisdom Tradition work of Nisha Bhairavi for many years.