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Although the challenge at the beginning of the pandemic was finding a way to authentically replicate warmth and kindness – while socially distanced – it is clear that volunteers found a way to do so by banding together in a variety of ways to make a difference.

 

Johannesburg, South Africa (03 December 2021) – The impact of the pandemic has undoubtedly been far-reaching – for individuals, businesses, and national and global economies. For many, this impact has been largely negative: job losses, a lack of economic growth, and widespread social isolation, among others. But for others, there have also been some positives: it has helped them find and pursue their purpose.

Volunteering has emerged as a popular way for people to find meaning – in all its forms, from micro-volunteering and payroll giving or skills-based volunteering to face-to-face and online volunteering.

“Volunteering allows people from all walks of life to connect with others and show active citizenship through acts of kindness that are able to create and add value to their communities,” says Dan Moyane, Momentum Metropolitan Foundation Chairman.

Even though the pandemic largely brought an end to face-to-face volunteering, people were innovative and found other ways and forms to provide their support, including payroll giving and virtual volunteering. Many people have been able to give time and resources to support local and relevant causes from a safe distance, empowering communities and building resilience.

“There has been a clear correlation between volunteering and resilience during the pandemic because of the mental health benefits it brings. Helping others has allowed people to look beyond their own circumstances and move away from ‘me’ to ‘we’ thinking. This is more solutions-centred and demonstrates the power of the collective,” says Moyane.

As an example: Saray Khumalo, who is the first black woman to summit Mount Everest and board member of the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation, found a flexible and creative way to help raise money to build digital libraries for children in rural areas whose education was disrupted by the pandemic. In her endeavour, Saray also broke a Guinness World Record for the most money raised during an eight-hour stationary cycling fundraiser. Saray and her volunteers raised over R700,000.

Collectively creating a wave of positive change

“This example shows how much more can be achieved if people are intentional and deliberate and work together to shine the light in the darkness,” says Moyane. “People are generally hardwired for kindness and connection, and the response in overcoming the challenges provided by the pandemic to continue volunteering have shown how combining individual efforts can create a powerful wave of positive change in South African communities.”

Keeping this human element of connection is going to remain a priority even in the face of continuing challenges presented by the pandemic – but the good news is that volunteers can continue to find their purpose and be matched with causes and organisations that they care about through online volunteering platform forgood.

“Although the challenge at the beginning of the pandemic was finding a way to authentically replicate warmth and kindness digitally, it is clear that volunteers found a way to do so by banding together in a variety of ways to make a difference. This helped not only their direct beneficiaries and communities, but it also helped them and acted as a buffer against the realities of the pandemic,” says Moyane.

The challenge going forward will be maintaining this momentum. But with the learnings acquired over the last year and a half of the pandemic, this should prove to offer greater opportunities than obstacles.

“People interested in finding and pursuing their purpose, particularly through volunteering, should look at the social issues facing the country and their communities and find like-minded partners to collectively find solutions that address these challenges and ultimately make South Africa better,” Moyane says. 


Sources: Andrew Willicott
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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