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On April 2, 2018, the world lost one of the most influential anti-apartheid activists in history.    

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of South African president and hero Nelson Mandela, died at the age of 81.

Photo by Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images.


Apartheid, a South African racial segregation policy that existed between 1948 and 1994, was an inhumane, racist societal structure that destroyed the lives of South African black people for decades. Madikizela-Mandela became the face and mother of the anti-apartheid movement during the 27 years of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment, and she became a figure that many came to respect and admire in her own right.

Madikizela-Mandela led an incredibly courageous — and complex — life.  As with most activists, she wasn’t perfect. She confessed to her role in brutal crimes, and her very public and complicated life took a toll on her personal life. But Madikizela-Mandela acknowledged and apologized for many of her mistakes toward the end of her life.

Regardless of how people think of her, it’s impossible to not recognize the importance of her life.

Here are three things to remember about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

1. She believed in ending apartheid and helping others long before meeting and marrying Nelson Mandela.

Madikizela-Mandela was a top student throughout school. A trained social worker, she also obtained a degree in international relations and began anti-apartheid activism as in her 20s.

Her first job was working as a social worker at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. In a time when activists were attacked, tortured, and killed, her public anti-apartheid views and works were unusual and invaluable. She was fearless, courageous, and unapologetic in her journey to helping others.    

2. She was the considered the “mother” of the anti-apartheid movement and post-apartheid South Africa.    

When Nelson Mandela was arrested and imprisoned in 1964, Winnie continued to carry on her husband’s legacy and mission.

This work came at a great cost: She was frequently detained by the South African government, making her subject to house arrest, reported torture, and extended periods of solitary confinement. During the later years of her husband’s imprisonment, she was exiled to the town of Brandfort in the Orange Free State and confined to the area, aside from rare times that she was allowed to visit her husband at the prison on Robben Island.

Unbeknownst to many, Madikizela-Mandela also did time in prison for her radical views. In 1969 and 1970, she spent 17 months in solitary confinement at Pretoria Central Prison.    

Eventually, she was recognized for her human rights work. In 1985, she was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

In April 2016, Madikizela-Mandela received one of South Africa’s highest honors: the Order of Luthuli, given, in part, for contributions to the struggle for democracy.

Photo by Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.

3. In a very feminist act, she refused to be defined by her husband.

While Winnie repeatedly supported and expressed her love for her husband, she refused to be defined by him.

Known as a charming politician and activist, Madikizela-Mandela had a devoted following of her own among the most poor and disenfranchised communities in South Africa.  

Photo by Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images.

Proudly known as being much more radical than her inclusive husband, Madikizela-Mandela led her own charge for democracy. The two divorced in 1996, and afterward, she was often asked about any chances at reconciliation. She replied, “I am not fighting to be the countrys first lady. In fact, I am not the sort of person to carry beautiful flowers and be an ornament to everyone.

In spite of her divorce, she continued to be a political presence as a member of Parliament, as well as by representing the African National Congress.

Madikizela-Mandela led a life most can only imagine. Fraught with hardship, imprisonment, and personal challenges, she had her share of issues and failings. But without her dedication and hard work, South Africa likely wouldn’t be the apartheid-free nation it is today.

Her power and strength was undeniable, and we can take the best of her life’s work and apply it to continuous fights against injustice and inequality in our world today.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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