UBUNTU: A SOUTH AFRICAN PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE THAT SHAPES AND CARRIES UBOMI
To survive in the Townships of Cape Town, you need one thing above all: Ubuntu. Ubuntu carries through the difficult moments, makes beautiful moments more beautiful, gives strength, confidence, and also perspective. Ubuntu is the foundation for life in the corrugated-iron huts and on the streets and in the families. And: Ubuntu is the only chance for us from Ubomi to make a difference.
Ubuntu – like Ubomi – is a Xhosa word. Translated into English, it means community, or even more powerfully, cohesion. But it’s more than just a term in an environment where more always seems to be breaking apart than holding together sustainably: Families are torn apart, huts burn down and collapse, political realities are extremely unstable. But those who are together find support. And that is precisely what makes the community of the people among themselves so strong.
I still remember the feeling I had when I first stood in the Township of Khayelitsha. As an Umlungo (white person) from a rich Western country, I was a stranger and somehow out of place in an environment that lacked everything. And at the same time, I felt very welcome. This community between the people who welcomed me was so vibrant, so warm and intense. The cohesion is so strong that our German words can hardly describe it. That is why we from Ubomi also speak only of Ubuntu.
In the years that I have been on the ground for Ubomi, I have experienced Ubuntu in the most diverse forms and variations: In families, in projects, in entire districts and neighbourhood communities, there is an unshakable cohesion. But not all people also find a home in it. And above all, children who fall out of these communities – usually due to fateful tragedies – are lost. They are no longer cared for or they seek new support – not infrequently in criminal organizations or in bad relationships of dependency.
It is precisely for these children that we want to be there. With our Ubomi houses, we give more than a hundred children and young people a space in which Ubuntu is lived, in which cohesion grows and perspective is created from community. Through the promotion of individual interests and strengths, mutual appreciation and acceptance. And through shared experiences that give them support and create a sense of belonging.
We knew that we could really make a positive difference on the ground. What we didn’t realize was that more than 9,000 kilometres away, virtually on the other side of the world, Ubomi is also creating completely new communities in a wide variety of places in Germany. A cohesion for a good cause.
Stand-up: Paddling across the North Sea for the Townships in Cape Town
For Ubomi lives not only from the founding team and the people on the ground in Khayelitsha, who provide daily warm meals and a place of refuge for neglected and orphaned children from the neighbourhood. But also from those far away who support this – financially, through volunteer work or participation in events.
Ubomi has also become a place where community is lived for many people here in Germany. Because wherever people come together to support our organization, it usually results in really good events. Whether flea markets or family parties, benefit concerts, fundraising runs or stand-up paddle events. Very many of these actions are supported by our main partner, the youth hostels in the Northwest, whose brand essence “experience community” mirrors our “Ubuntu”.
Doing good has become a community activity that we and many others really enjoy! Just a few weeks ago, sixty friends of the Ubomi family paddled on mega SUPs from Neuharlingersiel to Wangerooge. 16 kilometers across the sea – that has never been done before! Children and adults from different countries pumped 1,600 litres of air into the boards, paddled away and finally arrived as planned in Wangeroog harbor. How did this benefit the children in the Townships? 1,500 euros in donations, enough for a whole month of hot meals, lots of media attention – and laughter and amazement when they looked at the pictures on their smartphones. Because the fact that there are people out there who are standing up for them, even though they don’t know the children personally – that touches them, gives them self-confidence and the feeling that they are not alone. And for the participants, it was a unique event that was rewarded at the end with a paddlers’ party with a live concert at the Wangerooge youth hostel.
Two Worlds Come Closer:
Running 9.741 Kilometres for the Good Cause
Getting active for a good cause – this has increasingly become part of the association’s DNA in recent years. Because often the Ubomi actions have a moving background in the truest sense of the word. This is especially visible in our idea “Running for (and to) Cape Town”, in which many volunteers and our Ubomi children participated. Together we ran towards each other – for one year, step by step, kilometre by kilometre. A total of more than 9,700 kilometres were collected in a variety of ways: during marathon runs, soccer camps, hikes, project trips and more. Here, too, the pictures went back and forth, the Ubomi children saw how their peers and many other people set out to help them. In one year, they all travelled the linear distance between Bremen and Cape Town together, but what is much more decisive: they bridged the distance between two worlds and thus came – even if only virtually and emotionally – closer to each other
We ran the last meters together with ten runners and a lot of support at the Cologne Marathon. It was not only a great feeling to reach the finish line and thus to have completed the distance of our running campaign, but it also encouraged a lot of people to support us as running sponsors. The money donated helps us to significantly improve the reality of life for many children in the Townships – a reality they cannot run away from. All the more important that we make a difference here together!
The Xhosa-Wort Ubomi Means Life.
Ubomi Lives from the Commitment of Each Individual!
That is what surprises and touches me most about Ubomi: the incredible support of so many people! With a quote from Nelson Mandela “It always seems impossible until it`s done” we encouraged ourselves three years ago and meant the realization of a house for children living on the streets in the hot spot of the Township Khayelitsha. I did not think it was possible that we now have three houses where children have the chance of “Ubomi” – a life. I also did not expect how much I get back through the project, not only through our children with their incredible joy of life, but also through the “Ubuntu” in my immediate environment.
It is no longer possible to mention the commitment of all those involved. We would like to thank all those who support Ubomi and live with it from the bottom of our hearts. This cannot be taken for granted and is always motivating and moving for us. Ubomi lives and makes life possible. And this is mainly due to the strong community, the “Ubuntu”.
BECOME A SUPPORTER
We want a peaceful life and better future for our Ubomi children. We believe in this vision. „It always seems impossible until it’s done“. This quote from Nelson Mandela was our motto when we planned and finally opened our first Ubomi house back in 2016. Please continue to help us realize our vision and enable the children, who so deeply deserve it, to have a life worth living.