Sibongile Mafu

Seasonal goodness

2013-06-05 13:07

Sibongile Mafu

"Spare a thought for those who will have their homes flooded and destroyed during this terrible winter weather."

"It must be difficult for the homeless during this time. Please donate blankets and food."

The script is the same every year, where a spotlight is shone on the have-nots and our hearts open a little wider to give because the elements are a little harsher.

Winter is here. Brutal and relentless. It's that time of the year when many wake up to the fact that yes, there are countless people who are suffering, the period between June and August when it's difficult to ignore just how hard the end of the deals for many people.

Blanket drives, food drives, and clothing drives permeate through society as a sudden mad scramble to help those in need envelopes every province in the country. It's predictable and even in its good intentions reflects something very disturbing in how we deal with problems in this country.

The recent bad weather in the Western Cape is a prime example of this. The focus was on the good people were doing to help, but for the most part there was very little said about the abhorrent conditions our people are living in, those who have something to live in at least.

The cold front comes and contingency plans are set in motion to help those who will bear the brunt of it. As if summertime is any better. How bad does it have to get before we realise how difficult many people have it?

Now, I'm not one who is against opening up the old linen cupboard and pantry in the spirit of giving back and there are some amazing organisations doing good things around the country to help but something has got to give in terms of the reactionary nature in which we do things. How many houses must be fall over in order to be spurred into action?

Perhaps this is a very good example of the general way in which we go about problem-solving. There are good intentions but sometimes it seems to come a bit too late. We aim to temporarily repair rather than permanently fix or prevent, which needs to change.

I've always been an advocate for ideas and creativity when it comes to finding solutions. This week I was particularly inspired by a young man named Sizwe Nzima. This 21-year-old entrepreneur from Khayelitsha was named in Forbes Magazine's 30 under-30 Africa's best young entrepreneurs list.

He runs a bicycle courier business that delivers chronic medicine to residents of Khayelitsha. So instead of people queuing at hospitals, they’re able to get their medicine delivered directly to their door by Sizwe's team. Through this business he is able to employ four people, and use his creativity to solve a problem affecting his community.

Sizwe hopes that his business will eventually go national, and also to soon get the support of the Department of Health in order for it to be a service available to many. There's a long-term vision and an award-winning business model here that should inspire others to think in a similar vein: sustainability. Making a difference is important, but it cannot be dependent on the season.

In light of the efforts made by people during this time, perhaps the most effective ways of helping the most vulnerable people is starting to think of sustainable ways in which we can assist, as opposed to fleeting ones.

A prayer and a blanket can only you take you so far.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs. Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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