If every good person in South Africa raised their hand

Last year, a student in my adoptive hometown of Stellenbosch was brutally murdered. As happens when tragedy strikes, a lot of discussions go around about why it happened, what could have been done to prevent it, and where to now.

But what has stuck with me ever since, was the reaction of the grieving parents. They started a charitable foundation named in honour of their daughter’s memory, with the aim of addressing the broken society that gives rise to senseless acts of violence, beyond just the sheltered bubble of the wealthier parts of our rural town. “There is more good in this world than evil. If every good person in South Africa raised their hand and committed to bringing change in one other person’s life, then within two generations South Africa could realistically be the global country of choice for all,” they wrote.

It is easy to get crushed by the enormity of the challenges to create a safe South Africa for all its inhabitants. At Namola, we’re even more acutely aware of this than most. My “office” is on the Namola Response Centre floor. Every day I see and hear how our team of dedicated response coordinators scramble to work around resourcing (and occasional service delivery) challenges within our emergency and law enforcement agencies to get Namola users the assistance they require.

Giving up is easy. Acknowledging and confronting the problems — acting! — is hard. I sometimes hear the sentiment that unless we can do something perfectly, it’s better to do nothing at all (other than, I suspect, complain). I disagree. Change can start with a WhatsApp group in a single street, growing to a neighbourhood. Reaching out to the local police station and finding out how the community can support them. Extending a hand of friendship to other communities in the area. “If every good person in South Africa raised their hand and committed to bringing change in one other person’s life…” That’s how we both confront our challenges and overcome them. That’s how we simultaneously make South Africa safe and heal the deep wounds in our society.

– Pete (CEO, Namola

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