Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the category “News”

We’ll be back in 2014!

Photo Credit: Navy Blue Stripes via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Navy Blue Stripes via Compfight cc

The Common Good team wishes all of our blog readers a blessed and restful Christmas!

We’re going to be taking a break from blogging for a while (to put our feet up and enjoy the sunshine) but we will be back with fresh and inspiring content to kick off the New Year!

See you then ūüôā

Early Childhood Development: What’s The Big Deal?

We all know the importance of education but did you know that the success of a child’s education begins before they’re even born? Watch this 4 minute video to find out why those early childhood years are so important and how we can all be part of the solution:

Interested in learning more? Read this article by Bernadette Moffat, delivered at the launch of the Child Institute’s Child Gauge 2013. We also thought the statistics in this Times Live article were pretty eye-opening –¬†58% of children under the age of nine live below the poverty line!

Have you read any interesting/informative articles on ECD lately? What are your thoughts?

P.S. Email us for more on how you can get involved in addressing this issue through Common Good.

To Braai Or Not To Braai

How are you celebrating Heritage Day today? Have we lost the essence of what this day was really meant to be about?

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Photo Credit: Blyzz via Compfight cc

For the last couple of years, there’s been a debate raging over how we as South Africans should celebrate Heritage Day. ¬†For many, it’s an opportunity to partake of that widespread South African tradition, the braai, ukhosa, or chisa nyama, but for others this seems like a cop out. ¬†For these South Africans, honouring this public holiday by slapping some meat on the braai is the equivalent to celebrating Christmas by wrapping some tinsel around a tree. ¬†It lacks substance, depth, and meaning.

But how do we as South Africans celebrate a joint ‘Heritage Day’ when our heritage can look so widely different depending on our cultural upbringing?¬†

Maybe we should start by going back to the roots of this public holiday.  Did you know that today, 24 September, was formerly celebrated as Shaka Day in Kwa-Zulu, in memory of the legendary King Shaka Zulu?

Initially, the proposed Public Holidays Bill presented to the new Parliament of South Africa omitted Shaka Day, but it was later decided to make this day National Heritage Day where all South Africans could celebrate the diversity of cultures, beliefs and traditions that make up our country.  So even from its inception this public holiday was a topic of contention.

In an address marking Heritage Day in 1996, former President Nelson Mandela stated:

“When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.”

The Heritage Day ‘pot’ was stirred even further though when in 2007, Jan Scannell (or Jan Braai, as he’s come to be known) came up with the idea to create a Heritage Day initiative that would unite all South Africans in a common cultural activity – the act of cooking meat over an open fire. ¬†And ‘Braai Day’ was introduced as a way in which all South Africans could celebrate Heritage Day together.

This idea has grown in popularity to the extent that many people now refer to Heritage Day as Braai Day.  Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu has given his endorsement by becoming the National Braai Day patron.

He was quoted saying, “‚Ķ what Jan Scannell had in mind with the Braai Day initiative‚Ķ is nurturing and embracing a common South African culture, which is shared across all races and genders. Not one South African person can tell you that they have never witnessed a braai. ¬†Even in rural areas they light a fire and put their meat on it to cook.‚ÄĚ (The Times, 12/09/2008)

This debate is likely to simmer on for years to come, but perhaps it’s not so much about what we do on this day but about how we behave towards our fellow South Africans during the other 364 days of the year. ¬†Are we interested in learning about other cultures? ¬†Asking questions and listening to the stories of how other South Africans celebrate their heritage? ¬†Maybe if we did this, when Heritage Day rolled around we’d have a more diverse group of friends around our braai to celebrate it with.

What do you think?

EXPOSED: Stand Against Corruption

All you need to do is read the newspaper headlines to know that corruption is a very serious problem – but an exciting new campaign is giving us the chance to do something about it.

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Many of us can probably admit to having climbed atop a proverbial soapbox at least once to voice our frustrations about corruption in our country, right? 

After all, South Africa is mired in corruption from the small time bribery happening in shady alleyways to the gross mishandling of public funds taking place in the top rungs of government. It’s everywhere and we feel we have a right to complain.

But what if, rather than just complaining to our friends and family, our voices could be used to help improve the situation? What if we could actually become a part of the solution?

EXPOSED 2013 is a global call to Christ-followers around the world to take a stand against corruption and challenge those institutions which oppress the poor.

On a local level, its an opportunity for us as South Africans to learn more about how we can actively participate in our democracy and add our voice to governance and policy decision-making.

On a global scale, it’s a chance for us to petition G20 leaders to agree on anti-corruption action¬†at the summit in Australia next year.

The problem of corruption is sadly not one that is unique to South Africa. Every year, over $1 trillion goes missing worldwide due to bad governance, tax evasions, mismanagement, and illegal business practices.

EXPOSED aims “to position Christians as advocates of justice and transformation in the nations we are called to serve” (EXPOSED) and¬†is hosted by a group of Christian organisations including¬†the¬†World Evangelical Alliance,¬†Bible Society¬†(UK) and¬†American Bible Society,¬†Micah Challenge¬†International and others.

“We want to bring together millions of Christians from all denominations to take a stand and unite against corruption, fighting for the poor,” says¬†Dr. Dion Forster, the International Coordinator of EXPOSED. “Corruption is one of the greatest obstacles to dealing with extreme poverty and the campaign aims to mobilise Christians to join with wider society in exposing the practices which oppress the poor.”

So what are your next steps?

1. Sign the global call to action here

2. Follow the campaign on Facebook and on Twitter

3. Sign up to receive email notifications here

For more info, visit the EXPOSED website!

We’re excited about the platform this campaign provides for us to discuss how we can all help fight corruption in our country.

Over the next few months, we’ll be posting articles and reflections on what this could look like. Join us in this conversation! We’d love to hear your thoughts ūüôā

World Refugee Day: Why Should We Care?

Photo Credit: ChadCooperPhotos via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ChadCooperPhotos via Compfight cc

Every year on June 20th, millions around the world celebrate World Refugee Day. Let’s take a moment to consider what this day really means. By Sam Rawson

It seems that every day is an international day for something or other, but when I saw that today was World Refugee Day I just couldn’t carry on with my regular work. If I’m honest, usually when I see that it’s “World Water Day” or “World Health Day” I take all of three seconds to think about it before moving on to the next thing. The reason is that it’s often hard to comprehend the magnitude of what some of these days are calling our attention to. The world water or food crises are difficult to wrap your mind around when you’re not seeing the effects of it in your daily life. So what made today so different?

Well, for starters, I could put names and faces to this “international UN-observed event”. It made me remember the men and women I’ve met over the years whose stories of fleeing war-torn countries have left me feeling shocked and deeply moved.

The courage of the friend who shared how he’d hitchhiked as a teenager on trucks all the way from the DRC only to have all his money stolen from him by a taxi driver in Joburg. The heartbreaking story of a mother who having grown up in a refugee camp was now unable to provide for her children in SA as she waited months for paperwork from the Department of Home Affairs.

These stories and the thousand others like them make me realise that this is a day celebrating many of the people we live and work with. The woman in front of you in the bank queue, for example, or the man who makes your morning cappuccino. We are surrounded by stories of extraordinary courage and bravery.

The statistics tell us that there are over 45 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world, and that in South Africa alone there are over 295 000 refugees and asylum seekers (UNHCR). These numbers can seem overwhelming but behind them are the stories of women, men and children forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

So in honour of World Refugee Day today, let’s take the time to hear some of these stories and let our hearts be moved by compassion to reach out in love to those who’ve had to leave their homes and families due to violence and war.

Here are two stories that have really moved us:

No Place Like Home – Mary’s Story

What Is It Really Like To Be A Foreigner In SA? – Billy’s Story

If you’d like to get involved in helping foreign nationals and refugees in SA, visit NETwork or the Scalabrini Centre.

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