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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Mirna van Wyk, from Stellenbosch on how you can make a difference.

Mirna comes from Stellenbosch in South Africa where I was brought up as a child. This particular article of hers got through to me as, at 72, I can not remember a time in my life when I have been other than cheerful and optimistic, even when I was hospitalised in 1970 for three months having my helmet and head bashed in when involved in a motor cycle accident. Also my Army discharge book stated that: "This soldier smiles and whistles under all difficulties."
Mirna van Wyk 

Mirna is an educational psychologist from Stellenbosch. She taught at several schools, amongst others Stellenbosch High School, Bloemhof Girls’ High and Jan Kriel School for learners with barriers to learning. She is a mother, loves art, the ocean and children.
Make a difference
I am regularly overwhelmed by the poor circumstances some humans have to bare and even more so astounded by some individuals who seem to rise above it. Not being drawn in by negative talk, depressing surroundings or infliction. These people not only seem to lift themselves above these burdens but also do so to people close to them. They are definitely not victims of their circumstances, they are survivors and in some case even victors over their dire surroundings. And researchers have been for several decades been trying to pinpoint what gives people resilience-this extraordinary power to keep one’s optimism and purpose in life.
I was watching The Secret Millionaire on BBC the other day where real-life millionaires go into needy communities for 10 days to find worthy causes to donate thousands of pounds to. Sometimes they would find a child who started an awareness campaign for hungry children, sometimes an organisation caring for children with impairments and sometimes an octogenarian simply being a good human being and bringing over cake to the new neighbour. It became clear that there are many ordinary people doing extraordinary things in simple ways every day – “modern miracle workers”.
Viktor Frankl, Jewish psychiatrist who was captured in the concentration camps during the Holocaust was amazed that some fragile and sickly people would survive the ordeal whilst physically strong people would not. He wrote a paradigm shifting book called Man’s search for Meaning in which he documented the impact of love, kindness and responsibility on humans’ lives as he had witnessed during the Holocaust. Interestingly enough, these deeds can be given or received to change lives, can be real, imagined or simply a recall of the kindness - to make an impact.
Make the decision to start making a difference from today in your home, neighbourhood and place of employment. You be the change you so desperately want in the world. It starts with one person, and that person can be you.
You can start by simply smiling and greeting everybody you meet, it can be allowing another to walk first, or to take the only seat left, it can be picking up rubbish, planting trees, taking tea and cake to new neighbours, feeding the birds, playing with your children, getting involved with schools, ABET centres, old age homes to volunteer skills training or support services. It can be to pay your long time worker a decent pay or support her children’s school fees and supplies. The list is endless and will depend on your unique position and circumstance. But you can make that difference. And it is good for your own health and well being, as well.
One way of making the world a better place is to be kinder than necessary; for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Stop your excuses and your resistance to what you know you can do to make a change. Start today. 

Just Do IT! Be one of the “modern miracle workers”.
With warmth from me to you.

You are welcome to comment or send questions to her at 

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