Living the Values “African Style”

With Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday passing this past week many South African’s have been participating in community service.  They give 67 minutes in tribute to Nelson Mandela’s life and his service.  67 minutes is great but wouldn’t it been fantastic if it wasn’t just 67 minutes once a year?  How do you motivate people to rally around helping others long term?  This is when I found out about one of the African values or “philosophy” known as Ubunto. This word is very powerful and caught my attention.  Ubunto in Africa means many things (see Wikipedia) but from what I have gathered, people believe Ubunto is an interconnectiveness of people.  It is a belief that no one man (or woman) can become great without the help of others.  According to Leymah Gbowee a Liberian peace activist definition of Ubunto, “I am who I am because of who you are”.  What a perfect word to describe the goal of Project Hope – UK’s The Thoughtful Path Munsieville and my assignment as a GSK PULSE volunteer. It’s all here it’s just motivating people through their heritage, their values and igniting the drive of achieving more through others.

The past couple of weekends several of us partnered to help a family who lost everything when their home was burned down by arson in May.  There are three boys who had lived there with their grandparents. Seeing the new home/shack go up and helping someone who has so little is a great way of showing that when we all pull together things are possible.  I look forward to seeing the finished product this coming weekend.

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This word Ubunto has inspired me in the work I am doing.  The past couple weeks I’ve been getting into my assignment, I have been observing, learning and gaining buy-in from those within the community at each of their Hub (committee) meetings.  I have been working with them to assess their needs and their objectives.  The next step will be the hardest which is to really analyze the realistic strategies and tactics which will ensure sustainability for the children of Munsieville to live longer enriched lives.  With a lot of work still ahead, I know that focusing on our values; things can be achieved even when there are so many obstacles and frustrations pulling at us.  I think it’s a great time to reflect on Ubunto as we all get ready to watch the Olympics, cheering on those that have worked so hard and knowing they didn’t do it alone.  We can all do our part by cheering them on; supporting them no matter what country wins Gold!

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Count down  only a couple days July 27th!