2020: The year of the mask. Make next year one of giving
By Adri Senekal de Wet
2020 will go down in history as the year of Covid-19. When not in lockdown and secluded away from the open world, people the world over, were “allowed” out under strict conditions, observing physical distancing, and the mandatory wearing of masks.
Masks, worn to prevent the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, also had the effect of removing the smile from millions of people from seeing the light of day. Instead, mirrored in everyone’s eyes was fear. Fear of contracting this virus and fear of the unknown.
Overnight, we adopted technology with remote working becoming the new “office”.
Independent Media was no different, with our chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé, mandating that so far as possible, people should work from home, use the tools at our disposal as well as regularly check in on the well-being of colleagues.
With so much uncertainty in the beginning of this new “norm”, it was comforting to know that our leadership rose to the occasion and there were structures in place, to not only ensure productivity, but to truly see how we were faring.
For that I need to publicly thank our executive team. Like many, our salaries were subjected to cuts, but the message from our chairman was very clear: “so far as possible, we shall keep all our people employed”.
Amidst the chaos of a swiftly evolving media landscape, exacerbated by the decisions by governments to shut down entire economies, in South Africa we witnessed wholesale decimation of our media industry – retrenchments and even newspapers and magazines closing their doors for good. Fortunately, at Independent a different decision was made and we have kept things running.
That said, the “downtime” has also provided us with the perfect opportunity to re-shape how we as a media organisation will look and function in this new streamlined digitally-driven world.
This time calls to mind the words of the late, great Johnny Clegg’s song, The Spirit of a Great Heart:
The world is full of strange behaviour
Every man has to be his own saviour
I know I can make it on my own if I try
But I'm searching for a great heart to stand me by
Underneath the African sky
A great heart to stand me by
There's a highway of stars across the heavens
There's whispering song of the wind in the grass
There's the rolling thunder across the savanna
A hope and dream at the edge of the sky
And your life is a story like the wind
I'm searching for the spirit of the great heart
To hold and stand me by…
And, like a “hope and dream at the edge of the sky”, 2020 has also given rise to an upswelling of good neighbourliness and community. Many great-hearted people reached out to those in need, those that lost income due to the effects of Covid-19 and so on.
On a personal note, this awakening of spirit was punctuated by my own 14-year-old daughter: “Mom, I started a non-profit organisation with my friend. We want to reach out and give something back to the needy, to those that are jobless. Can you help me please?”
This is their story, which I hope will resonate with many readers, for our future is in the hands of these young people:
“During and after lockdown, I saw a lot of people struggling and in need of help. I desperately wanted to help them, but I did not know how or who to assist – the need was so great and all around me. Then I came up with the idea of starting a Not-for-Profit organisation that could take on a different project every month. I thought it would be better if I had help, so I messaged three of my friends. My best friend had been talking a lot about how she wants to help, but since she also did not know how, I thought it would be a good idea to collaborate.
We did our first project in August this year. We helped The Abba Baby House. Although we did not receive any donations, we donated three bags filled with food and clothes to them. Our second attempt was more successful, with a care package project. In total we handed out 52 bags filled with the essentials like maize meal, bread, soap and so on to the needy.
Our goal is to create a trustworthy platform that people can easily donate to and know that it will reach the people for whom it is intended, and so they in their way, can help their community. By donating to ‘The 4GIVE Initiative’ people are able to support not one, but multiple causes every year.
We may be young, but we have heart and a conscience and as 1 Timothy 4:12 ESV says: "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."
Now, if 14-year olds can do this, imagine what you can do?
So, as we approach the festive season and a day synonymous with giving, I wish the loyal readers of Business Report a blessed time, filled with peace, hope and care.
I want to express my appreciation to our loyal advertisers, to the leadership of Independent Media and the dedicated commercial team.
I also extend my heartfelt gratitude to my team at BR for their perseverance and commitment, in delivering world-class content every day of the week.
Independent Media stands by its mission, to deliver news without fear or favour.
Adri Senekal De Wet is Executive Editor of Business Report and Personal Finance