22 December 2010Thanks to an innovative community project, some of South Africa’s underprivileged children will be able to experience the joy of Christmas.In a heart-warming display of the festive season spirit of caring and sharing, a plethora of presents and a whole lot of love have been carefully packed into shoeboxes to provide almost 32 000 needy children with a gift this Christmas.The Santa Shoebox Project was established in Cape Town in 2006 by Dee Boehner, director of the public benefit organisation then known as From the Children, To the Children.The organisation has since changed its name to the Kidz2Kidz Trust, but its principle of providing privileged children with an opportunity to do something for their not-so-fortunate peers, thereby teaching them the importance and the joy of giving, remains the same.The project’s first outing five Christmases ago saw 180 personalised gift boxes pledged, packed and delivered for distribution to needy youngsters. The following year’s total reflected a strong growth to 2 000 boxes, which burgeoned to more than 8 000 in 2008.Last year’s donations grew even more to see Santa’s bags at collection points around the country stuffed with more than 16 000 beautifully decorated shoeboxes, which were distributed to more than 200 children’s homes, childcare facilities and places of safety.The target for 2010 was initially set at 16 000 boxes, but strong support saw this figure revised upwards to 28 000.In a thrilling indication of how the project has captured the imagination of a caring nation, a phenomenal 31 663 boxes were eventually pledged and have been dropped off at the 15 collection points around the country.This year, for the first time, the project is also extending into neighbouring Namibia, with a collection point in Windhoek.Spreading the spiritOne of those who took part this year for the first time was Lauren Collier of Port Elizabeth. She heard of the initiative from friends in Cape Town who had previously supported it.While Collier was wondering how she would be able to get her box to one of the drop-off points in the Mother City, she learnt that the project was coming to Port Elizabeth this year for the first time thanks to the initiative of local co-ordinator Kim Keen. After also learning of the venture while on a visit to Cape Town, Keen was determined to see it implemented in her home city.And the response has “completely blown me away”, she says.She started her planning with a very conservative and, she hoped, reachable target of 150 boxes. Within a week of online pledges opening nationally on 1 September, all of these Port Elizabeth boxes had been snapped up and Keen was inundated with calls from would-be donors eager to deliver.As word of the project spread rapidly, local pledges kept pouring in until there were 1 125 boxes, enabling Keen to increase the initial list of four beneficiary facilities in Port Elizabeth to 18. Supporters even drove in from the neighbouring centres of Grahamstown and Port Alfred, more than 100km away, to drop off their boxes, she says.But it did not end there. East London, some 300km further up the Eastern Cape coast, got wind of the project and collected 60 boxes for its needy children – despite having no official co-ordinator. Keen roped her mother, a Buffalo City resident, in to help. “She didn’t know what had hit her,” she laughs.Another Eastern Cape town, the surfing mecca of Jeffreys Bay, collected 70 boxes, while a supporter from George, on the Garden Route, approached Keen to volunteer as co-ordinator for next year, to see the project also implemented there.An easy way to contributeBut what is it about this particular project that has caused an interested South African public to so generously open their hearts, and their wallets, for the country’s children?“I always like to do something for those less fortunate at Christmas, and this seemed an ideal way to contribute,” says 23-year-old Collier, who has just completed her studies as a primary school teacher.What especially appealed to her were the very clear guidelines for packing a box, which she found on the project’s website“This makes it so much easier than trying to figure out what is appropriate to give – and all the children at any one facility then get more or less the same sort of things, making sure no one is disappointed when they open their box.”Another aspect that appealed to Collier was the personalised gift-giving. Project supporters can select the age and gender of the child (or children) for whom the box is intended, and receive a gift label with the child’s name to be attached to it. They also know the organisation through which the child will be reached.Keen agrees that this is one of the project’s most appealing aspects – that supporters can know exactly where their donations will be going and who will benefit. However, generic boxes are accepted when the number of boxes donated exceeds the number of children whose names have been provided by the beneficiary organisations.The project, on its website, explains that many people want to contribute to their community or do their bit for charity, but often do not know where to start.“The Santa Shoebox Project takes pride in channelling all that positive energy and goodwill into something that is credible, achievable, makes a real difference in a specific child’s life and leaves the donors feeling really good about themselves,” it says.Gift guidelinesThe website indicates a list of items that must be packed into each box – and those to be avoided. Boxes are required to contain a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and a facecloth, an item of clothing, educational supplies, sweets and a toy. This carefully thought-out list ensures the child gets something to use, to wear, to do, to eat and to love.Gift ideas for each category are provided, with further ideas for boxes for babies and teenagers. All gifts must be new and age-appropriate. The organisation also warns of items which should not be packed into the box, such as fragile objects, electronics, medicines or violence-related toys such as guns or soldiers.Creativity is encouraged in both gift selection and decorating of the boxes, which can then become special keepsake boxes for the children – many of whom might never previously have had anything they could claim as exclusively their own.Volunteers at the designated drop-off points receive the boxes for distribution – this year to about 350 child-care facilities throughout the country, usually at Joy of Giving celebration parties.And Keen found plenty of local businesses only too happy to come to the party this year – all of Port Elizabeth’s celebration events have been sponsored by local companies, further enhancing the children’s Christmas experience.For her, being involved in “this amazing project” has been a humbling experience, Keen says. “It has been absolutely fantastic to realise how many genuine, caring and wonderful people filled with humanity there are out there.”And she has indeed seen the joy that both giving and receiving can bring. “Parents have really encouraged their children to get involved and make this project their own,” she says. “So youngsters have arrived beaming and proudly bearing their boxes – to be given to ‘a little boy’ or ‘a little girl … just like me’.”And the excitement and joy that opening a box holds for the receiver are something to behold, she says. “We had one young boy of about 10 who nearly went into orbit with delight when he unpacked his box to find a really cool Ben 10 t-shirt inside.”So, while it might not yet be the night before Christmas, Santa’s ever-growing band of helpers is already out there, hard at work delivering the goods.First published by MediaClubSouthAfrica.com – get free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service.
It was a tricky global environment when Boutros Boutros-Ghali became the secretary-general of the United Nations in 1992. The world was emerging from the Cold War and countries were redefining relationships with each other. He navigated a new path for the organisation.United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali addresses the International Conference on Population and Developments in Cairo on 5 September 1994 to produce a Programme of Action. (Image: UN Photo, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr) • Connecting women to technology • South Africa’s competitive advantage in the developing world • South African feminist a global voice for women • UN launches Mandela Rules for prisoners • UN awards first Nelson Mandela prize Priya PitamberBoutros Boutros-Ghali became the sixth secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) on 1 January 1992, when he began his five-year term at the helm of the global organisation. He died on 16 February 2016 at the age of 93.“We pay tribute to the former UN secretary-general and wish to convey our deepest condolences to his family and his country, Egypt,” said President Jacob Zuma on his death. “May his soul rest in peace.”Born in Cairo, Boutros-Ghali was the first African to hold the position of secretary-general of the UN. During his tenure, the world was in a “critical post-Cold War period when the world body was redefining itself and engaging in more international peacekeeping operations that often received criticism for its efforts”, said the Presidency.Time of promise and perilAddressing the General Assembly’s special tribute at UN Headquarters in New York, current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Boutros-Ghali had both the fortune and the misfortune to serve as the first post-Cold War UN chief.“While the United Nations was never as paralysed during the Cold War as many have portrayed, the new dynamic gave the organisation new leeway to act,” Ban said. “This brought promise and peril – and Mr Boutros-Ghali experienced both.Memory of former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali honoured at the UN, see more: https://t.co/TPqYWDcec1 pic.twitter.com/Wci00qhHbE — United Nations (@UN) February 18, 2016“Perhaps he was too direct for some; he might have been too professorial for others. Some definitely found him too independent – a goal that he considered among the highest virtues for any secretary-general of the United Nations,” said Ban.He described Boutros-Ghali as relentless in defending the organisation and its charter, and quoted the former secretary-general:“With all the convulsions in global society, only one power is left that can impose order on incipient chaos: it is the power of principles transcending changing perceptions of expediency.”Boutros-Ghali broke barriers & new ground – @UN_Radio covers Friday’s #UNGA tribute https://t.co/LJJ6fo4jh6 pic.twitter.com/ldpRS4uXMM — United Nations (@UN) February 19, 2016Career highlightsSoon after Boutros-Ghali was inaugurated, the UN Security Council met in it’s first-ever summit of Heads of State and requested a report on the way the organisation could strengthen capacity for preventive diplomacy, peace-making and peacekeeping. It resulted in a report, penned by Boutros-Ghali, called An Agenda for Peace.“As secretary-general, he presided over a dramatic rise in UN peacekeeping,” Ban told reporters. “He also presided over a time when the world increasingly turned to the United Nations for solutions to its problems, in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War.”Boutros Boutros-Ghali, secretary-general of the United Nations, with President Nelson Mandela at the presidential residence in Pretoria on an official visit to South Africa on 26 April 1996. (Image: John Isaac, UN Photo, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr)In his article celebrating 70 years of the UN, Boutros-Ghali wrote that the invention of peacekeeping was one of the organisation’s proud moments.Another standout moment for him was the declaration of human rights and the World Conference on Human Rights held at Vienna in 1993. “There have been many conferences setting world agendas and goals before and after Vienna, but for the world to come together to define human rights, and to state clearly a global commitment to their achievement, was an important moment in history,” Boutros-Ghali wrote.See more from Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s tenure as Secretary-General in @UN_Photo gallery: https://t.co/fcoW75ZBqP pic.twitter.com/3CTQvjkMJu — United Nations (@UN) February 18, 2016Watch more on his appointment to the UN:About Boutros-GhaliBoutros-Ghali was born in Cairo on 14 November 1922. He received a Bachelor of Law degree from Cairo University in 1946 and diplomas from Paris University in subjects such as political science, economics and public law. He received his PhD in international law from Paris University in 1949.He became Professor of International Law and International Relations at Cairo University, and from 1974 to 1977, he was a member of the Central Committee and Political Bureau of the Arab Socialist Union.He “had a long association with international affairs as a diplomat, jurist, scholar and widely published author”, according to his profile on the UN website.He became a member of the Egyptian parliament in 1987 and was a member of the secretariat of the National Democratic Party from 1980. Until assuming the office of secretary-general of the UN, he was also vice-president of the Socialist International.Boutros-Ghali was also part of the Camp David Summit Conference in September 1978, which resulted in the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, signed in 1979.“He led many delegations of his country to meetings of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, as well as to the Summit Conference of the French and African Heads of State. He also headed Egypt’s delegation to the General Assembly sessions in 1979, 1982 and 1990.” Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (third from right) visits with young residents of a UN-supported orphanage on 22 October 1993, operated by the Irish humanitarian organisation GOAL. To the left of the secretary-general is Brigadier General Maurice Quadri, commander of the French contingent of the Second United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II). (Image: F Ribere, UN Photo, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr)In celebrating the 70th anniversary of the UN, Boutros-Ghali wished to build on past achievements and update it for a changing, modern world. “Just as the United Nations invented peacekeeping, we now need to modernise the practice, and the Security Council’s use of the instruments at its disposal to promote international peace and security. We need a new Agenda for Peace,” he wrote.
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