Hundreds of images of disaster, loss, and grief have flooded our television screens and newspapers over the past few days. In an already negative environment, these images overwhelmed me and caused so much sadness as I have tried to make sense of it all. Senseless murders caused far too many families to bury their loved ones. Floods and fires brought their disastrous share of destruction and poverty wreaks havoc in communities all over the country.
As an employee in a non-profit environment, I am acutely aware of the many organisations and causes that face enormous daily challenges to raise funds for their communities. Hospices, animal shelters, day care and educational centres, clinics, women’s shelters and poverty alleviation spaces, to name a few. As I mingle with people at fundraising events and address various assemblies, I become more and more aware of the misunderstanding that exists towards organisations that are dependent on the public for financial and material assistance on a regular basis. Donors are often reluctant to donate money, as they fear corruptive practices and others have become so tired of continual requests for help.
Specifically in the hospice environment, there is a massive reluctance to donate to these worthy causes as the mere mention of the ‘Hospice’ word evokes fears of death…. Intense research has shown that this is a worldwide phenomenon and much education is needed to quell this misconception. The Hospice philosophy is not just the buildings where patients are cared for, but also the services that are offered. Very often families become donors only once a family member has passed through the hands of Hospice care. Another misconception is that only ’older’ people are treated at Hospices and only cancer patients. Patients of all ages and all suffering from life limiting diseases are cared for at Hospices and many resources are needed to care for these patients from every walk of life.
To make sense of the non-profit world, I have had to make peace with the fact that we all choose an organisation or a just cause of our choice. It really does not matter where your heart lies. What is of utmost importance is that we do indeed donate our time, money, or goods to a place where our efforts are sorely needed. An incredible example of this is in action east of Johannesburg, where senior women, affectionately known as ‘Gogos’ in the communities, spend afternoons in makeshift libraries, reading to the township children. As part of their service, they also go to great lengths to find suitable books for these avid little learners. Woolen caps, gloves, food and blankets round off this heartwarming support.
Another worthy cause operating in all the townships in the same area is a group of animal lovers who collect pets for inoculations and medical services, free of any charges. Bags of food and warm blankets form part of this service. Yet another group of women are knitting little ‘breasts’ from the softest cottons and filling them with the purest cotton balls for breast cancer patients just out of mastectomy surgery. These little ‘breasts’ fill a space that is now vacant and won’t hurt the tender surgical area.
I could continue writing about the thousands of non-profit organisations presently active in South Africa. I am aware that we are often annoyed and irritated by constant requests for assistance, but being involved on the other side; I can assure you that non-profits cannot possibly operate without the support of their communities.
Sadly, we often wait for disasters to happen before we stand together and make plans to relieve the suffering and loss of those caught in the crossfire of these calamities.
Especially at this time, where so much lack and destruction is evident, let us choose our cause or organisation to support, and be reminded that these very important places are not JUST causes or organisations…. they all fill a need in someone or some animal’s life.
Where can YOU help?
Until next time….