It started with a #neknomination (well, let’s be honest – it likely started with a drunk Australian feeling like this was something he thought was a good idea for more people to do?)
An online video clip of a drinking challenge game where you “film themselves drinking a pint of an alcoholic beverage, usually beer, in one gulp and upload the footage to the web” (wikipedia) and then nominate two other people to do the same, paying it forward so to speak (where “it” was a silly drinking game that has caused the death of up to four different people so far) with the resulting neknomination needing be met within 24 hours.
So it started to spread around the world and then it hit South Africa and, in particular, a guy named Brent Lindeque who turned the whole #neknomination thing on his head by driving up to a guy begging on the side of the road and passing out a sandwich and a cooldrink to the man. The challenge was transformed into RAKnominations and people started responding in a big way by filming videos of themselves doing Random Acts of Kindness and challenging others to do the same.
Inspired by my mate Howard Fyvie who went and sang to a group of senior citizens and handed out cake and had polaroid pics snapped with them and then being nominated myself by Jono van Deventer who Howie had passed it on to [after he paid for some random lady’s shopping and then serenaded her in Spanish at her car] I endured a hectically crazy busy day trying desperately to make my #neknomination happen to no avail until at 11.15pm I stumbled upon an idea that might work, filmed it and got it edited and uploaded by 7.45 the following morning with minutes to spare.
In my #neknomination that eventually happened, I had a brief conversation with a mate of mine, Richard Bolland, who had expressed some hesitation, particularly to the random and once-off nature of these acts of kindness, seeing them as a great start, but really feeling like if they just happened and were walked away from that maybe they were not the most helpful thing and how do we encourage people who are stepping up and doing great acts, but challenge them to get more deeply and long term involved to be agents of long-term real change?
MAKING A DIFFERENCE vs SIMPLY MAKING A VIDEO…
This morning I awoke to find two that seemed to have longer term effects at least so it feels like we are getting closer:
Ashton Hayes joined in and his #neknomination stepped it up a gear, inviting the whole of South Africa to get involved in rebuilding the burnt-down roof of a house for a woman who looks after 14 children in a local township.
South African fast food chicken join Nandos joined the #neknomination train by renovating the kitchen and dining area at the Sithandiwe Disabled Day Care Centre just outside the Alexandra township.
Richard Bolland had this to say:
I have a problem with the idea of basically handing out food to anyone who seems poor with absolutely no intention to build relationship or understanding. It’s a good example of something being very good on the outside, but potentially damaging with no long term help. It’s such a grey area because it makes me feel good watching that video. But we’ve got to ask ourselves how much good it does.
Another good analogy I can think of is the starfish metaphor. Often people think ‘giving’ is like throwing a starfish back into the water. “But it’s making a difference to that one.” When in actual fact all you’re doing to throwing a glass of water onto the starfish and saying that you’ve saved it.
Now I am not trying to slam people who have taken part in #neknominations [well except the drinking game people – stop being STUPID – you might be fine at it, but somewhere along the line you are going to challenge someone who isn’t and they will try and up yours and another person will be seriously injured or worse!] or at least the RAKnomination ones… but what some of us have been saying is examine the motivation of the videos and the effect of your actions.
Even with something as amazing as helping rebuild a roof or fixing up the kitchen for a home – stay in contact, build relationship, look for where that person can help you , share stories, get invested and do whatever you do for a longer period of time.
At the non-profit where I work, Common Change, we have a saying which goes something like this: It’s not that the rich and the poor don’t like each other, it’s that they don’t know each other. Get to know someone, hear their story and then suddenly you are not faced with random homeless guy, but Peter who is your friend. I tend to want to help my friends and walk journeys with them. Then we will start to see real change.
It has been incredible to watch South Africans take a stupid drinking game and add life to it – the acts of kindness have been great, BUT it would be even so much greater if we were able to shift the momentum that has been grown through the RAKnominations and transform it into longer term acts of change that will benefit individuals, families and even whole communities… Instead of a 24 hour timeline for creating a video, what if people started committing themselves to get involved volunteering for six months at a place of need in the community… and what if that spread?
I just watched this clip today which seems to be a lot closer to how these things can look – evidence of relationship already plus also partnering with an organisation that has long-term involvement and knowledge of the community and is made up of people living in the community – more of this please: