Its that time of the year when most of us look forward to the Christmas/New Year holiday. Plans are diverse and usually dictated by which age-group you belong to. While in my mid 20s, I always looked forward to engaging in some serious liquor and entertainment related activities as a way of bidding farewell to the year and welcoming the new one. Today, the story is different.
The average individual is most likely engrossed in planning for a cross-section of activities largely pertaining towards the family’s enjoyment. While it’s important to ensure that family is well catered for during such times, I have grown up enough to realise that the tendency to only think about self is one of the worst habits humanity has gotten into.
Social Responsibility is an ethical framework that suggests that an organisation or individual has an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large. As individuals, we have a duty to perform social responsibility in order to maintain a balance within the societies we exist.
In Uganda for example, the typical middle class family is going to spend this holiday in at least one of the following ways; attend parties hosted at high class venues like the five star hotels everyone who is somebody wants to be seen hobnobbing at, organise parties at home or attend a string of parties at friends’ homes, take a trip with family to a holiday destination (local or international) or undertake a trip to the village with the family.
All these activities aren’t bad at all. However, when they focus on self then there is a big problem. While you’re out there spending UGX 350,000/= (USD 100) each night enjoying yourself;
Someone lacks UGX 100,000/= (USD 30) to pay school fees for their child who is getting into a candidate class.
A Universal Primary Education (UPE) School in your village needs just UGX 500,000/= (USD 150) to buy a full set of syllabus books to be used by the teachers.
Some students who have struggled through school are stuck at making carer choices and need a simple pep talk to show them the opportunities that lie yonder.
An elderly widow is struggling to shelter herself from weather elements in her structure worse than a chicken house.
A water well in your neighborhood needs basic protective works to ensure that nearby residents have better drinking water.
A health centre lacks basic cleaning tools like a scrubber, jerrycans, liquid soap all costing less than UGX 150,000 (USD 40)
The issues are immense, all it takes is looking around you and endeavoring to pick just one to act upon. You see, we do not live in a vacuum. Individual prosperity is not sustainable in a sea of poverty. If you have been blessed to have something, just know there are many that do not have at all. By exercising social responsibility during this festive season, you will have begun your journey towards being a socially responsible citizen.
You might say, well, am a tax paying citizen. The government should play its role. Just take it from me, we have cried for years without end to get the government to sort out some of the now chronic problems we are faced with but nothing seems to get done. As a responsible citizen, are you going to just look on? Imagine this, the fees of a pupil in a high end national curriculum school in Kampala is at least UGX 1.2 Million. Once I was in West Nile and came across a UPE school with 2000 pupils that received UGX 3 million per quarter. In other words, what you pay for two of your children a term in school is what the government assigns for 2000 pupils. It’s mind boggling and shocking at the same time to the extent that shouting yourself hoarse for change in this regard will be more strenuous than you mobilising friends to address some of that school’s challenges.
Stop being inward looking. Make your family happy but you too need to realise that putting a smile on others outside your nuclear family is a pre-requisite for a proper balance of social harmony.
As you do your thing this festive season, take time off to address a public need. I already have one lined up for me in Butaleja on the 28th of December 2016. A group of concerned Talejaz is launching Tree Planting and Education initiatives under our umbrella association of Naanghirisa Development Association.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
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