▲ Works from artists such as Olivier Duong, Victoria Heaton, Ania Barma, Ami Wright and others were part of the night's auction. Photo courtesy of Sharif Seyam
"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Nelson Mandela was one of the most iconic figures of the 20th and early 21st century. He helped to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa and was a world advocate for human rights.
In honor of Mandela Day, which is celebrated each year on July 18, Jeju’s artistic community gathered together to mark the occasion and to raise money for victims of recent floods and fires in South Africa.
▲ Jeju expats turned out in great numbers for the benefit. Photo courtesy of Sharif Seyam.
The event, “Hope of the People,” was organized by Bianca Greeff with the help of Ruth Minnikin and Melode Rozenkrantz. The event was held at Artscenic, a local non-profit arts organization and space.
The event featured an art auction, snacks, and live musical performances, and brought out a good number of expats in the community for a worthy cause.
The Jeju Weekly had an opportunity to interview Bianca to get a better sense of the importance of the event.
What does Mandela Day mean to you?
“As a South African who grew up in the rapidly changing new South Africa, Mandela became more than a person, he was this symbol of freedom and change, hope and forgiveness. I can’t remember when I first heard about Mandela Day, but I do know there was some kind of advertising campaign where we were encouraged to get involved in some act of service. Mandela Day was the day that you try to give your time to something positive. I am an Occupational Therapist and plant fiend and have often played some role in a variety of organizations with an aim at uplifting communities.”
The theme this year is Action Against Poverty. What is being done to combat the problem and what can we do to help?
“I haven’t been home in a while but I believe organizations that develop people and support women, in particular, have the longest lasting impact. Organizations aimed at teaching skills and encouraging and assisting in developing employment opportunities, business projects and creating business opportunities is essential in eradicating poverty. The ideas are there and many small innovative businesses are popping up that need further support or the initial help in setting up. There are many famous organizations that bring relief to people, which is essential, but my hope is that the money we have raised goes towards empowering people to make a change for themselves. Impoverished communities always suffer first in any crisis be it financial or other. This year, the drought, which has been ongoing since 2014, and the largest storm in 30 years will have had a phenomenal impact on hundreds, if not thousands of lives. I believe sending money to an organization that helps build up communities is the best thing we can do to help at the moment.”
▲ Jason Lisko was one of the musicians who shared his talent with those in attendance. Photo courtesy of Sharif Seyam.
What does it mean to you to be able to share your culture with the Jeju community?
“Sharing about home is sad right now. South Africa is such a special place, filled with such a variety of special people. I feel proud to be South African, however, what has happened recently is a little bit shocking and I wish it wasn’t such terrible news I am sharing. I am also proud to be part of the Jeju community in these last few years. I have seen people come together, again and again, to support one another and show kindness to each other and support one another’s causes. What a blessing to be here, with so many caring people to call my friends.”
It did not end there, as she took a moment to spread thanks to all who were involved in making the event such a success.
“I would like to thank everyone who was involved in making this happen, artists and bakers who donated their work and of course those who supported by attending the event and purchasing some local pieces.”
The hope is that relief efforts will have a positive impact in helping those affected by the disasters. The Jeju community was able to raise more than one million won thanks to the auction, and the money will be distributed to various charities to aid victims.
The “Hope of the People: Mandela day on Jeju” initiative is another example of how the Jeju community has come together time and again to help others in need, and has remained a defining characteristic of the people who call the island their home.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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