It manifests itself in various ways. It can be an insatiable desire to actively participate in outreach programmes. It can reveal itself as the pang of guilt when you see a person on their knees in public. A pensioner. A child. For a small, silver coin that ultimately means very little to you.
As Kendrick Lamar phrased so poignantly, "How much a dollar really cost?" It's Barack Obama's favourite song of 2015.
Consider biology. Look carefully enough and you'll discover a Darwinian explanation for almost every behavioral trait that human beings display.
Take sex. It feels good because your body is trying to encourage you to do it as often as possible - for the purpose of propagating your genes. To further the interests of humankind.
Why do you feel that drive to help? That pang of guilt?
Empathy. Your brain is sending you signals that make you want to do something about it. A FELLOW HUMAN BEING IS IN SERIOUS NEED OF YOUR HELP. On a chemical level, you don't approve of the fact that a fellow member of your species is in such dire circumstances.
You can choose whether to act on that impulse or do nothing. That's your prerogative.
One person that has elected to follow that impulse in an immense way is Shaheema McLeod. She is the Director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.
The centre is in it's 17th year and has provided aid to 180 000 women and children in that time. They hope to continue bringing about change in a meaningful way, and give individuals the tools they need to make informed decisions about the right way forward.
They do this by:
- Providing safe accommodation to 100 women and children at any given time.
- Managing an intake division where their social workers and counsellors assist, assess and provide counselling to approximately 300 clients a month.
-Offering a legal advice team that assists clients with protection orders, maintenance and divorce applications.
- Arranging accredited skills training and job placement to clients residing with them..
- Running a catering programme as part of their sustainability plan where they employ residents who then earn a stipend while in training.
- Coordinating the services of the partnering NGOs based on their premises.
You can't change the world, but you can change someone's world. That is our challenge to you.