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Celebrate... Give Thanks

I really admire people who seem astutely aware of the needs of people around them and seem to have the knack of saying or doing just the right thing at just the right time to encourage, comfort, reassure or assist someone.

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.

At large, the needs in our society and in our country are many and dire. We know that we have an education crisis. This is huge, we can’t fix this overnight. What about the enormity of HIV and Aids? What could we possibly do to change this? Worse than that, children are dying of starvation and deprivation within close proximity to our city, but we say it’s impossible to get out there and make a difference. Unemployment looms on our street corners and even knocks at some of our doors, but we are helpless in the face of the domino effect of the financial dip.

Or are we? Louise van Rhyn of Symphonia, an NGO, is a fervent believer in the possibility of all our individual voices joining in unison in the great Symphony of South Africa’s future. We all have something to offer.

Only, we must decide which story to tell. Will it be the tale of cynicism, criticism, hopelessness, excuse, negativity, blame and scarcity? Or will it be the story of positivity, co-operation, contribution, excitement and accountability? Either choice will set in motion a spiral of results, the one an upward and the other a downward spiral.

As educators, we believe that we need to prepare our children to live lives of contribution, so that in years to come they will enjoy a sense of pride, ownership and accountability in their country.

We believe that should our boys have to come to terms in the future with the fact that they did nothing to help, when they could have, they will be regretful. We believe that our young boys should be exposed to the reality of those around us who lead far more difficult lives than our own and that this will make us more thoughtful, caring individuals. We believe that minds can be trained to see the good in the world and to have a sense of hope and possibility. We believe that there is a danger of becoming selfish and thoughtless if all we ever know is the comfortable, plentiful, expectant life of entitlement. We believe implicitly that the danger exists of becoming self-centred, insular individuals in ivory towers and cosseted schools, lacking empathy and respect for our fellow citizens, clutching on to our well- being and success, denying the sadness and decay and inevitable collapse just beyond our high walls. What then?

So, we do our very best to keep on trying. We endeavour to educate boys who will be aware of the world around them, boys who can think beyond themselves and their immediate needs, desires and needs. It is our duty to provide opportunities which might tug heartstrings, spark relationships or open boys’ eyes to the skills and talents they have to offer. This is the reason that we extend interest and assistance to Ashdown School and other beneficiaries. Just one brief experience for a particular individual could ignite an idea which will change lives. Who knows? This is the reason that we suggest specific areas in which families may help and share. This is the reason that at various stages of passage through Cordwalles, boys will interact and be able to offer various forms of contribution, not always material.

It is a journey that we undertake together, one during which we and our society will all benefit and come up trumps in the end, waving the flag of the story we chose to tell. It is our hope that our learners will learn to give what they can, where they can, with happy hearts. With hearts.

Each one of us can change the world. That change could start with you.

It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.

We do not presume to tell you how. Being asked to assist is neither a presumption about wealth, nor a judgment on choice or generosity. Being asked to help is a privilege, an opportunity for a life- lesson and also the prerogative to choose where and how you can be a contributor. You set your potential to give.

What is life if not to form relationships and work together towards a better world?

Giving makes the world a better place. Giving enables us to have the confidence to put ourselves out there, to be vulnerable, to be emotionally responsive to the needs of another and to have the desire to meet those needs.

As we work to create light for others, We naturally light our own way.

Mary-Anne Radmacher

This was published with permission from Laura-Jane Colepeper - Cordwalles Preparatory School Newsletter No. 37.