How much does it cost to be happy? Not much, right? But how much does it take to bring happiness and joy to the next person? Sadly, the cost of living is so overwhelmingly high, and sometimes we think making a difference to others takes an astronomical amount of money to do. We tell ourselves we have to sort our finances first before we can engage with the troubles facing our society. But the truth is, whether active or not, we are all locked into a social contract morally and ethically, to help each other for the general good and bettering of the society as a whole.

Around 20 000 children die prematurely around the world each day due to poverty related causes. People every day around the world lose their homes due to unforeseeable circumstances, and others become homeless. Many children, especially in a country like ours, lose their parents at an early age and become forced to prematurely assume and grow into adult roles… All these misfortunes and circumstances occur under our noses, and we so often turn a blind eye, brushing it off for as long as it doesn’t hit home and affect us personally.

When we lost our parents, me and my sister had to face the world mostly alone. Many family members distanced themselves, as well as neighbours, who knew very well that we lost our home. I was a teenager, and no one stepped in to even buy me as simple a thing as a T-shirt. Varsity has been a tall tree to climb without much assistance. If it wasn’t for my older sister really, I don’t know by what means I could have got by… maybe I could’ve pursued the life of crime to fend for myself, maybe I could’ve ended up a drug addict, strung out somewhere in Joburg central.

So I have held a deep-seated grudge against everyone and everything really. But lately, sober of mind, I’ve made peace with things and have vowed to help in the society however and whenever I can. After all, I’ve learnt that holding onto one’s suffering doesn’t create any solutions, nor the space for advancement and growth. Rather than crying over the odd, cold treatment I received I’ve chosen, I’ve decided to improve myself inside and outside, so that I can affect the environment around me more positively and progressively.

The problem is that, we all think to make an impact your pockets have to be deep, that you should open a big foundation with many sponsors chipping in, or you have to be some larger-than-life celebrity. But the truth is that it can take very little. Personally, I’ve made it a habit to always carry a few coins on me, so that I can help a beggar out as they ask for some change, or just randomly give them food when I’m passing by – as I’m consciously aware walking around the city I’m bound to meet one.

In high school I habitually gave away my study material and textbooks to support the academic progress of someone else also in need – a feat which has been hard to keep up with in varsity, given I couldn’t afford some textbooks myself. I remember growing up, how my late mother used to give away my clothes to my younger relatives when I outgrew them or when she thought I had a surplus and could spare some, and it is such altruistic acts I have come to adopt into my everyday living.

Whether called upon or not, it’s our moral duty and obligation as citizens to help those in need. You can always volunteer at a home, be it for the old, orphaned or disabled. You can always go to the nearest shelter and help feed the homeless. You can try help out the child-headed family you know in your neighborhood. You can always actively donate money, food and clothes and your hands to campaigns and local foundations that are already actively participating in making a socioeconomic difference around you. You can always return to your formative childhood schools to lend a hand, and buying shoes and clothes for those who come from underprivileged backgrounds.

Otherwise, what’s the use of all the churches, temples and mosques we attend, the gospels we often quote and recite, and the philosophies we read and the ubuntu we vehemently preach about, if they don’t ensure we have a caregiving hand, and a mind that is aware of the troubles the people around us face daily?


Tell us: do you try to help others in your daily life?