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Life & Style
May 27 2011 3:45PM
 
About Town: Doing Good
Pictured: Claudia Henkel.
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Claudia Henkel

This week I was invited to an event by Dermalogica. It was a Women in Business breakfast and was hosted by Jane Wurwand, the founder of Dermalogica. That in itself was a reason to go because between my mother and I we probably keep the business afloat with the amount of money we spend on their products.

I schmoozed among the who’s who of South Africa’s business and entertainment world. There were former Miss South Africas, like Amy Klienhans-Curd and Bernalee Daniel, current Miss South Africa Bokang Montjane, Elana Afrika, Louis Carver, PJ Powers and Shashi Naidoo, to name a few.

These events are usually the same: you sit and chat about what’s been happening, who did what and, if you have a boyfriend, when you might be getting married – and if you are married, when are you having a baby. I kid you not. You then eat too much and leave.

I waited patiently for Jane to address us and was expecting her to concentrate on the success of Dermalogica and what fabulous new products they would be launching in the months to come that would reverse the ageing process and make me look 17 again, but she did no such thing.

Instead, she touched our hearts with an eye-opening initiative that blew my mind. The concept is called Fite, which, in a nutshell, is a foundation that assists in the economic empowerment of women worldwide, assisting them in business and allowing them to explore their entrepreneurial skills. What got my attention was her ability to get under my skin and make us all realise that although there are many charities that exist and which often appear at these events, donating a sum of money once in a while, as many of us do, is just not enough.

So it got me thinking about what I could possibly do in my own capacity to benefit the lives of others. During the breakfast I must have created several business plans in my head of how I was going to change the world. Perhaps I should quit my job and travel Africa – I actually did contemplate this, by the way.

The solution, after listening to her for a while longer, was not in large-scale planning, moving across the world or becoming a member of the Peace Corps, but to do something small every day that would benefit the life of someone else.

Now, by this I don’t mean smile at a stranger and make his day – instead be interactive through different avenues. Give the man on the street a R10 note, go onto Facebook and click “like” on a charity page, give your old clothes to a home nearby, tweet about a cause that you randomly heard about, don’t throw your leftovers out, and why not give the petrol attendant a little something for washing your windscreen. These might seem like insignificant things to you but they could definitely benefit someone else.

I have been involved with charities for a number of years, but nonetheless I have tried doing something small every day since my encounter with Jane, and will continue to do so; then every morning I can wake up and with confidence say, “I made a difference”. Have you?

For more information on the Fite initiative, visit www.joinfite.org

Send your comments to claudiah@thenewage.co.za

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