Nelson Mandela has many accolades. He’s an iconic figure that triumphed over South Africa’s apartheid regime. He was a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, and an international peacemaker. And he was the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa (no biggie). So you see why the United Nations General Assembly would want to celebrate his life. Commemorated on July 18—Nelson Mandela’s birthday—the day celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make an impact. So, in honor of his 67 years of public service, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the UN asks that you spend 67 minutes of your time helping others.
Why Nelson Mandela International Day is Important
A. The day recognizes Nelson Mandela’s values
Nelson Mandela was a principled man, a political activist, and a symbol of justice and equality. He considered poverty one of the greatest evils in the world, and spoke out against it. That's already a big battle to fight, but it wasn't his only one. He was also against bigotry and institutional oppression and became a voice for reconciliation. Today is the day that reminds us of his many accomplishments, and the principles he held dear.
B. The day inspires you to help others
Above all, Mandela was a humanitarian who devoted his life to helping people. He spent 67 years helping people, so this day reminds us to stop and take just 67 minutes of our lives to help those who are less fortunate.
C. It promotes cultural diversity
Diversity matters, and having a diverse community—one that values the difference in people—is even more important. We must recognize that people with different backgrounds, skills, attitudes and experiences bring fresh ideas and perceptions, because only through mutual understanding can we rid our communities of intolerance. Since Nelson Mandela was a strong advocate for diversity, this day reminds us to think critically about diversity and why it's essential.
How to Observe Nelson Mandela International Day
We all know an organization or non-profit that could use some help, whether it’s the local homeless center or your city's animal shelter. Whatever your favorite cause is, go volunteer for at least 67 minutes this Nelson Mandela International Day. Bonus points if you convince your family, friends, or neighbors to come with.
Donating isn’t always about giving actual money. Donate some of those clothes that you know you won’t wear anymore, or those canned goods in your pantry. Whether you're giving blankets to orphanages or blood to Red Cross, we guarantee you'll enjoy how it feels to give back to the community.
3. Attend a community forum
Conducted to raise awareness in communities, public issue forums take place all over world. They're conducted on various topics like health care, the economy, and education, and they're one of the best ways to get involved and be a part of the decision making in the community.