Into the Arena!

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt, 1910.

Our Arena belongs to every South African. Every person who lives in this country, partakes of its resources, contributes to its economy, and calls it Home has the opportunity, the duty, to step into the arena and to dare greatly.

As citizens  we are each responsible to be active, law-abiding members of society. Furthermore, we have an an obligation to care for those who are less fortunate.

We face a social crisis in South Africa. There are approximately 11 million child support grants issued monthly to households, caregivers and families who are unable to provide for the needs of the children in the home. That’s 11 million children in a population of 52 million; 21 % of our total population. The crisis exists, and there will be no resolution until we all take part in the solution.

The crisis may seem insurmountable and most of us feel that any small contribution that we might make will not have a significant impact.

This is where we say: Dare greatly, step into the arena! Strive valiantly, spend yourself in a worthy cause! Be brave, be a mentor!

The truth is that the youth of South Africa will inherit the country. Generation makes way for generation and it’s the obligation of preceding generations to raise up the new generation in the way that they should go; to empower them and teach them how to be accountable for the great gift they are about to inherit.

Our youth are inheriting a country of incredible potential, natural beauty and rich in resources and provision. Yet, they are also inheriting a history of poverty, discrimination and pain. For many of them this is their personal history as well.

Frederick Douglas said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men and women. (Bold wording our own).

If we do not each take a hand in building strong children we will all face a situation of a broken next generation inheriting the country and moving into society carrying all the pain, hurt and anger of their past.

Youth mentorship gives each person the opportunity to impact and make a difference to one life. That one life will lead to an enormous difference in the future when that one child has completed his education, graduated college or university, entered into the job market, is earning and providing for his family, contributing meaningfully to society and raising up the next generation.

American studies have gone so far as to put a monetary value on youth mentorship in terms of how it positively impacts the economy because children who are mentored are empowered to make good decisions for their lives.

Mentorship; stepping into the arena, is not just to help a child but to build South Africa for ourselves and our families.

Theodore Roosevelt also said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. You can be a friend and a support to one vulnerable child; you have time, experience, resources, LIFE – use it! There are children in your community and vicinity who need what you have to give. Be brave. Be a Mentor!

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