On the 18th of July South Africans celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day, or 67 Minutes for Mandela as it is also known. Most of us have heard about Mandela Day after its inception in 2009 and many individuals and organisations try to spend at least 67 minutes making the world a better place on 18 July.

The event was inspired by a call to action made by Nelson Mandela in 2009. In Madiba’s own words earlier that year: “It is in your hands now.”

The simple message evoked by this statement is that everyone can make a difference and help shape the world around them. Nelson Mandela International Day was inaugurated by a unanimous decision by the UN General Assembly and on 18 July 2009, on Madiba’s 91st birthday, the first ever Mandela Day was celebrated worldwide. The 67 minutes were inspired by the 67 years Mandela himself worked towards freedom and equality in South Africa.

Only one question remains: “What am I doing this year to make a difference?” To help you decide, TravelGround has compiled a list of 10 things you can do to make a difference with your own 67 minutes:

1. Donate something: Donate blood, your old clothes or your time, sign up to become an organ donor or with the Sunflower Fund as a stem cell donor. There is no better time to get rid of all the boxes gathering dust in your garage or to empty out your closets than on Mandela Day. Many organisations, charities and people in need could use the things you have grown tired of.

Donate something to a worthy cause. Photo: Animal Welfare Society Stellenbosch

2. Hug a granny: Spend some time with the elderly in your community. Many old age homes have reading projects and welcome visitors with open arms. Sit and read to them, ask them to tell you their stories or learn how to knit.

Spend some time with the elderly on Mandela Day! Photo: Andrea Krüger

3. Brighten a child’s day: Organise a sporting event, help out at a school in need, become a mentor or help out at a children’s centre. Children’s shelters do wonderful work and try to make life a little easier for the most vulnerable in our communities. There are also some attractions or organisations, like Panthera Africa outside Stanford, that give free entry to kids on Mandela Day.

Brighten a child's day this Mandela Day! Photo: Miracle Kidz

4. Help the homeless: Donate food and blankets to a local organisation or spend some time volunteering in a soup kitchen. There are many people around you in need. Find out what your church or local charities are organising and help them achieve their goals.

5. Support a furry friend: Animal shelters do wonderful work and are great places to volunteer your 67 minutes. Make these helpless and homeless animals’ lives a little happier by donating food or blankets or just some of your time. Shelters often welcome volunteers who would like to walk the dogs or clean the cages. You could even change one furry creature’s entire world by giving them a loving home!

Make a difference by volunteering at a shelter or join a BrakTrap, like the one at AWSS. Photo: Animal Welfare Society Stellenbosch

6. Nurture Mother Earth: Clean up the beach or the park, start a recycling project in your home, plant a tree, and start saving water and electricity. There are many ways you can help and you don’t even have to leave your home. Many organisations are dedicated to saving the environment and you will help make the future a brighter, safer and cleaner place for the next generation.

Join a project that supports nature conservation. Photo: Whale Coast Conservation

7. Knit something warm: Join the 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day project. Last year they broke the record for the largest area covered with a blanket and this year they broke their own record with approximately 15 000 blankets covering an area of 1378 m2. They also involved prisoners at the Drakenstein Prison who knitted furiously to reach this goal. The organisation also has regional offices where you can get involved or donate blankets. Or you could always knit a warm scarf, sweater or blanket and donate it to a shelter or safe house in your area.

Knit something warm for those in need. Photo: 67 Blankets via Facebook

8. Buy a book: And donate it to a child, school or library that needs it. Spreading literacy and education to those who don’t have easy access to it is a great cause to support on this day of celebration for Madiba.

9. Support a local cause: Join your community or company with a project in your area. Many communities have Facebook pages where they promote and share special projects or organisations. This way you can look for something to do right on your doorstep. There are also many celebrities and radio stations that have various charity drives to support Mandela Day.

10. Make every day Mandela Day! Spread love, kindness and goodwill throughout the rest of the year by making new resolutions and sticking to them! Pledging to make a difference 365 days of the year seems an insurmountable task, but starting small, like getting a piggy bank and collecting coins in your office for a worthy cause can change the life of someone in need.

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Feature image: MandelaDay.com