Blueprint for a better future

In September South Africans were issued a challenge—come up with a visionary response to the question: “If you could change one thing forever, what would it be?”

An initiative of the Southern Africa Trust, the Change4ever campaign aims to raise R1-million through online pledges and a dedicated SMS line. It will also give insight into what South Africans believe would bring about change in the country and the region. The funds generated will be used to enable the trust to find lasting solutions to the region’s cycle of poverty.

The citizens of South Africa rose to the challenge. The initial responses show that South Africans care about the future of their country and fellow citizens and that they are willing to take action to build a better life for all. An analysis of the received messages shows that there are a number of pressing issues that the public would like to tackle head on.

South Africans feel strongly that government and politicians should be more transparent, less corrupt and should distribute state and donor funds wisely. To build a stronger economy for the future, they would like bank charges and interest eliminated.

Education and job creation clearly lie close to many people’s hearts as a way to eliminate poverty. South Africans are making a strong case for an improvement in the standard of education at all levels.

Free boarding schools with a créche for children in need were mooted as a way to ensure that Aids orphans and their dependants receive food, education and a home.

Crime, corruption and greed came under a lot of scrutiny. The public would like to see an end to crime, “especially violent crimes that happen to undeserving people”. They want to reverse the perception that a person’s worth is measured by how much money he or she has and not by his or her contribution to society’s advancement. To change this, respondents feel, would put a stop to corruption and greed at all levels of society.

As far as essential services such as health, justice, safety and security are concerned, South Africans would like to ensure that the status of and respect for teachers, nurses and the police is restored in the eyes of every citizen and that they are applauded for the services they provide.

South Africans would like to see a drastic improvement in the state of hospices in black communities and an end to the spread of HIV/Aids, children dying from malnutrition and the way in which the justice system continues to fail women.

For children South Africans want a world of difference. They want to ensure that each child has access to good quality education and at least one nutritious meal a day. They feel strongly that both parents should accept “the 18 years of responsibility that go with the pleasure of creating a child”.

In the fight against poverty, violence and abuse they want to eradicate all violence and abuse directed at women and children. They would like to see the country introducing a basic income grant and ensuring that all South Africans have a piece of land registered in their name.

Respondents see prejudice and misperceptions as being at the root of many of South Africa’s problems and would like to eradicate all prejudice based on religion, race, sexuality or gender.

They want to wipe out the negative stigma attached to being HIV infected: “If people could view it on the same level as any other chronic illnesses more people would test regularly.” Mostly South Africans want people to take responsibility for their own lives: “Forget the notion that you are a victim and therefore entitled to handouts.”

Finally, respondents want to “put God back in to the schools. Without God there will be no morals.”

For more information on the Southern Africa Trust and its campaign visit www.change4ever.org

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