How you can make a difference during the SA riots: a citizen’s guide

I get why people want to pray for South Africa now during the riots. People feel helpless, and maybe prayer will help. And they see the hashtag (I’ll puke before I use a hashtag, you know how I hate them) and they retweet it and then they feel like that’s enough.

But if prayer was enough, the riots would be over. Clearly, they are not.

I spent some time trying to find articles or guides on how we can really help, how we can actively contribute to making a difference in these crazy times. I believe, with all my heart, that the majority of South Africans (and the foreign nationals who live with us and contribute to our economy and call our country home) are good people at heart.

A few thousand rioters do not represent 60 million people. It’s a couple of percentage points. And with the news, local and international, never forget the first rule of journalism: if it bleeds, it leads. The more violent, upsetting and divisive the footage, the more it will be shared. Facebook, Insta and Twitter are gladly monetizing hate and fear. We don’t have to be part of it.

Huge props to The Good Things Guy, who is actually pulling together stories of how people are making a difference. It was this post that inspired me to write this list.

Action helps us feel more in control. Doing good things creates a ripple effect. I’ve seen a couple of images of people helping, but I also wanted to compile a guide for how citizens can make a difference. This list may grow over the next few days. Please add your comments below regarding organizations you’ve worked with and trust.

And now: a list! (we love a list)

  • Join the ReBuildSA volunteer group on FB (yes, I know its FB, but the people are there) – there are amazing offers to help, and opportunities to make a real difference. Whether its offering a bakkie to move things, e-walleting those who have lost their businesses, or helping people with paperwork to claim insurance, you have the skills to help.
  • Go donate blood! Some of the SANBS banks were looted. Here is a list of blood donation sites. And you get usually get a small gift and some juice and biscuits. (I love donating blood. I’m in a waiting period, otherwise I would be there with both arms out. I’m there on the 5th of August!) They will also come to you if you can motivate your big office block/school/federation to host a drive.
  • Donate to the organizations on the ground. This is sometimes the only option for those who are at home looking after children, are in isolation, or have to still go to work. They can make your rands (or pounds, ex-pats!) go far!

    – To feed the elderly in KZN who are risking food insecurity right now: https://www.tafta.org.za/donate.html
    – Gift of the Givers- where’s there is a crisis, the Givers are there. https://giftofthegivers.org/make-a-difference/
    – Food Forward works to eliminate national food insecurity and they feed hundreds of thousands of people every day: https://foodforwardsa.org/take-action/ (their distribution centres were hit by rioters, sadly)
  • Help tidy up. Like climate change, you might not have caused this mess, but making the difference is our collective responsibility. Grab some garbage bags, double-mask, and go find somewhere to help. Get your friends together! Take some selfies, and inspire others. Here’s a FB group arranging volunteer groups.
  • And the easiest one: stop forwarding LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE THING YOU GET ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Ugh. Half those videos are outdated, some aren’t even from South Africa. Some of those posts are complete and intentional disinformation. This is the opposite of being helpful. Also, try speak up when your racist uncle sends you racist memes. I know family confrontation is hard (I would rather fight any UFC fighter before I fight my family, mostly because I am always vastly outnumbered and most of them don’t respect me) but don’t let the younger family members hear that garbage. There is so much deliberate disinformation out there – don’t make it worse. Take this opportunity to block and ban that member of the family that supports the AWB, QAnon and whatever other hate group they belong to. Sies. It might not stop the riots or the sadness, but for a moment, you’ll at least feel better. Let them see that single tick forever.

    I am just a simple South African, who loves her country and believes that we are better. We have been through worse, and all storms must pass. Literally nothing lasts forever, and neither will this. We can set the example, and make the difference, and all those cheesy phrases that last because they are true.