Inspiring Ubuntu in Action

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Tuesday, 24th March 2015

As mentioned in an earlier blog, Grahamstown is a small city with a big heart. A fitting demonstration of this is the existence of the Goodwill Gang. This truly is a heart-warming initiative.

Just over two years ago, eight friends were discussing the neediness of various sectors of the Grahamstown community. These concerned, thirty-something citizens began to discuss how they could provide helping hands whilst having fun in doing so. They are all busy people with careers, some are raising families but they wanted to make a difference. Hence the birth of the Goodwill Gang!

They meet once a month, choose a charity and a way of raising money to assist it and have a good time doing so. This modus operandi is effective and successful. To date, the Goodwill Gang’s methods of generating funds are by facilitating Art Auctions, holding White Elephant Sales, having Book Sales and hosting Mini Music Festivals featuring local musicians.

“We stay flexible and it’s a great learning curve”, stated their spokesperson. They can also call on between six to ten volunteers from spouses, partners and friends when extra manpower is needed.

Merchandise for White Elephant Sales is accumulated via word of mouth and the year end Rhodes University students’ Digs Scrap. These are a time saving way of raising revenue and very popular with the disadvantaged members of Grahamstown society. The latter, for example, are happy to buy crockery even if some items are slightly chipped. It is considerably cheaper than anything in stores and preferable to plastic ware.  The sales follow the same fun filled pattern. There are no pricings so everything is bartered, with haggling giving rise to humorous interactions.

The Good Will Gang have hosted two Mini Music Festivals and are planning a third early in May 2015. This will be held in the Students Union. There is tremendous diversity in the music played. Eagerly anticipated is a newly formed Nigerian influenced group whose music is a fusion of ska, funk and jazz. The Rhodes University Comedy Club will also be appearing with local bands and all augers well for a great and prosperous time.

Three art auctions have been facilitated. Last year, they were approached by a homeless indigenous artist called Mr Bosman. His unique and authentic art is made from found objects and the Goodwill Gang decided to showcase his work. All eight art pieces were sold. Tragically, he died a few days later. However, the Mr Bosman Living Legacy has been created. This will entail a year’s sponsorship of an impecunious pupil with aptitude to study at the Carinus Art Centre in the medium of his or her choice.

The beneficiaries of the Goodwill Gangs’ enterprise are The St Raphael HIV AIDS Testing and Counselling Centre, Child Welfare, Hospice and Sakhuluntu. The latter is a creative programme for children in the Township’s Extension Nine.

These eight community-minded individuals are proudly Grahamstonian and the Goodwill Gang’s endeavours show inspiring ubuntu in action. 

KJ Guteridge.

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