7 ways you can help solve SA's problems this festive season

The festive season is a time when many of us reflect on our lives, our new year's resolutions, and how we can contribute.

Fin24 took a look at some of SA's major economic problems – and what individuals can do to make a difference.

1.    Do your bit for child healthcare

According to Unicef, 4 300 mothers die due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth annually, 20 000 babies are stillborn and another 23 000 die in their first month of life. In total, 75 000 children do not make it to their fifth birthday. Some 61% of under-five deaths are linked to avoidable factors, says Unicef.

What you can do: Make a donation, make gift packages or spend some time volunteering at a child hospital near you. Red Cross Children's Hospital; Maitland Cottage Home; Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital are in major metros, but a Google search will deliver several results.

2.    Volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen

Statistics South Africa's General Household Survey showed that 7.4 million people reported experiencing hunger in 2016. There is no national census on homelessness, meaning we do not know the true extent of hunger.

What you can do: Donate or volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter near you. Well-known shelters include New Hope and The Haven, but there are many smaller shelters and kitchens too. Many shelters also sell coupons that allow the bearer access for an evening.

3.    Help battle gender-based violence

Earlier this year, Stats SA reported a 117% spike in femicide. It's also been reported that gender-based violence costs the economy billions per year. Despite this, shelters for abused women are battling to find funds.

How you can help: Some crisis centres prefer female trauma counsellors or have other qualifying criteria, and if you qualify, you may opt to go this route. Alternatively, you might make a donation of money, food, clothes, toys, books or school supplies to a centre in your area – many women are also looking after their children.  

4.    Help fight unemployment

It's probably safe to say there are few South Africans untouched by, or unfamiliar with, the scourge of unemployment. With an unemployment rate of 27% and a youth unemployment rate of over 38%, there are myriad organisations devoted to helping the jobless get on their feet. These include government-backed initiatives like YES, and NGOs and NPOs as well.

How you can help: Make donations to organisations like the above; support small businesses and informal traders when doing your festive shopping; hire independent traders and contractors for any DIY you're doing in the new year.

5.    Help build homes

SA faces a severe housing shortage. In Cape Town alone, the housing backlog stands at around 300 000, according to the provincial department of human settlements.

How you can help: Habitat for Humanity holds multiple volunteer events throughout the year aimed at building homes, including corporate events. You can also donate.

6.    Help kids learn

According to the Institute for Race Relations' Centre for Risk Analysis, SA's education system is the single greatest obstacle to socio-economic advancement, rather than reversing patterns of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

How you can help: There are many ways you can help: sponsoring a school near you, volunteering as a tutor if you have time, or offering your skills as a sport or extra mural coach. But if this doesn't grab you, you can also feed a hungry child via the Peninsula School Feeding Association.

7.    Fight violence

Crime has a staggering cost to the economy across multiple sectors, Fin24 recently reported.

How you can help: Support the SAPS by becoming a volunteer. Enquire at a police station near you about its reservists training programme, trauma counselling service or other ways in which you can assist.  

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