What a birthday!

Started with breakfast with tbV [aka the beautiful Val, my lovely wife] and our former housemates from Oakland, California, Aaron and Sarah at Martin’s, a local bakery/restaurant just down the road from us.

It finished with a drive along Chapman’s Peak, some Sticky Ribs and a game of Lords of Waterdeep [which i totally crushed, although it was my birthday so who knows what was going on].

But in between all of that there was Mapula. A young black woman in South Africa with a university debt to pay off so that she can start looking for a job.

My hope for my country is to live in an all inclusive society, where people can actually begin to perceive each other as human beings.The world is made out of so much love by God we ought to start giving it, there is a Pedi proverb that goes”Motho ke Motho ka batho”roughly translated it means you are only a person through other people that is my hope for a new South Africa.


With an approaching birthday, there really wasn’t anything i needed and not really anything i wanted either, and so i was quite happy to less this one sneak by… until i heard Mapula’s story, and suddenly that Pedi proverb rings true: “Motho ke Motho ka batho” – i am a person through other people.

That echoed the strains of Ubuntu and the idea that in Africa the village raises the child. Suddenly i knew what i wanted for my birthday. My friend Tristan had started an Indiegogo campaign to see if we could raise the $2, 400 needed to help Mapula and so i quickly put together a post, inviting my friends to be a part of raising the money as a birthday gift to me.

It was SO EXCITING to watch the percentometer rise throughout the day as people started to give. Before i went to bed, i wrote these thoughts in my status:

More than 350 birthday messages, from who knows how many countries around the world – THANK YOU – each one means so much – and so many of the messages flip stories back into my head of how i met you or a conversation we had or an event we attended together – so many memories in one beautiful day…
# i imagine i am one of the few people who responds to each message personally [or tries to] and probably the only person on Facebook who has ever spammed 350 people with a Birthday Present link [so much so that i had to start identifying tigers and watches and lions in groups of photos to prove my non-botyness]
# BUT i absolutely believe in the link and it has been great to connect with Mapula and see the fund-raiser start the day small and hit 67% by the time i am heading to bed – you can check the results here:
# i REALLY want to thank each and every person who gave from R100 to $400 – the time and energy and effort and money may feel small on an individual basis but for one person it is life-changingly-significant and i hope this is a story we get to hear more about…but THANK YOU really to everyone who gave… you have helped to make a difference. Most of you saw the birthday ask, but not everyone got to read the follow-up post shared by Mapula giving us a glimpse into her life and dream:
# Lastly, my friend Leah Rudman had this to say:
I reckon you find one of these a month
(1) people trust you so they trust you trust who we are giving to
(2) you’ve got friends across the whole world and if we all do something small it can do something big.
(3) people sometimes need to find opportunities to exercise their generosity
(4) most people can set aside $8 or R100 each month!!
(5) habitual generosity will hopefully become a more frequent habits in their own daily lives.
So i will leave that with you… If you are someone who would be up to committing R100 or $6 or the currency equivalent of your choice to a worthy cause once a month i can definitely do the ground work in finding it… but maybe let me know below if you’d be keen and we can gauge interest…
Thank you for celebrating my birthday loudly and sincerely – i feel much loved and i am SO SUPER EXCITED for the possibilities of this year ahead and especially for South Africa that i know so many people feel so bleak about – there is so much reason for hope and optimism.
You are loved,
brett fish
When i woke up this morning, the counter had jumped to $1, 692 or 71% which was really exciting. i was hoping we would have nailed the whole amount, but that still is a really great effort by so many people.
Although, then i saw something that bummed me out a little bit – the bit that says, ‘raised by 69 people in four days’… [especially knowing that there were other networks of people getting involved and that at least two of the much larger amounts had come from people outside of my circle]
i have 4500 Facebook friends and another almost 4000 followers on the Twitterer and only 69 people came to the party [well probably less cos those weren’t all mine].
i guess some people get overwhelmed when looking at a $2, 400 goal… but when you break that down into a R100 gift [the equivalent of $6 and even less pounds] it really is not a big deal for most people i know, but it does require that a whole bunch of us [400] show up.
Just 118 more people at that rate [and i know at least one person gave $400, in fact most people gave over the $6 we asked for] and so i’m hoping this post will help get us there…
In fact if 59 of you grab a friend and do it together, then that is all it takes.
Picture of South African Flag
i love South Africa and i have a whole lot of hope for her. But for the kind of change needed here, we are going to need everyone to start showing up. Listening, engaging, committing to a movement like #NotOnMyWatch when we see or hear racism around us, and also digging into our pockets for time, money, energy, and resources.
Another amazing thing about the birthday gift was that it was international with people from the USA, Australia, England, Scotland, New Zealand and beyond all getting involved. That really was great.
Lastly, in the greater scheme of things, you might be thinking, ‘One person? What’s the big deal?’ What difference does it make? Well, i imagine for Mapula, it makes a bit of a difference. And then for her family. For the company where she is going to work. For the younger people that she is a role model too. And so on. i imagine that seeing how one person can be helped SO EASILY by everyone putting in their little bit, we can hopefully be more prepared to be doing it more often and hopefully have our eyes wide open for the next story we can be a small part of. Maybe we might even consider being part of something like Common Change and joining with friends regularly to share our resources with people we know and care about who are in need.
But what a birthday day it was. Although in 29% time it will have been so so much better, Thanks for giving, if you did. Now is there one other person you can invite to help us inch that one little bit closer?