Our feet are sore, our skin is red and burnt, our calves ache but the bank of one section of the Black River is cleaner.
We have R20 000 toward the ongoing cleanup of the river and the promise of a further allocation from Working for Water this week. Toyota has expressed interest in being a major funder in 2008.
We know this is not enough. We know this is a tiny, tiny start to what must be done but we are incredibly inspired by the people we have met, by the passion, the knowledge, the work, the untiring commitment to giving back to our planet.
When he visited South Africa in 1966, Robert Kennedy said: “Each time a man stands for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And, crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
We believe that those words (applied to men and women) can be used for every quest for transformation. You are helpless until you act. You are insignificant until you step forward. No one hears until you speak. The challenge is not to work on your own, but to inspire others to follow or to participate; as Mahatma Gandhi said, “be the change, you want.”
Individuals have always driven real change. We have to get out of the office and into the world, we have to make the time, we have to get our hands dirty, we have to be inconvenienced, we need to take personal responsibility for the change we claim we want.
This effort had plenty of nay-sayers – mostly from those who complain the public never help 🙂 Some say clean-ups aren’t enough, that they are not sustainable, and that no one really cares. But the obvious points are these – when we stop, nothing happens; when we become discouraged, deterioration persists. The challenge is to use disappointment as a signal to restrategise, to start again. It took Gandhi 50 years to bring independence to India after he was first thrown off a train in Pietermaritzburg and decided he was sufficiently annoyed to devote his life to justice for Indians. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. Martin Luther King gave his life.
We need to continue, to educate, to beg, to cajole, to inspire, to work with imagination and passion – Deputy Minister Hanekom has pledged to help us make this a huge event next year covering most of the river within the city. And despite our exhaustion, do you know what? We think he is right. We’re going to do it again and hope we can count on you … in the meantime if you know of a good foot masseuse …!
With our great thanks
Leila Beltramo, founder, What-On-Earth-Is-Happening, Wynberg, Cape Town 083 427 3940 or 021 762 2656 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel & fax: +27 11 646 7637
Mobile: +27 82 495 8716
Blog: www.thoughtleader.co.za – Charlene Smith
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