On Tuesday 15 May International Day of Families is observed and celebrated by people across the globe. However, in South Africa, most of the population is unaware of this special occasion, which is to give thanks for their loved ones.
“International Day of Families is an initiative by the United Nations. It emphasizes the importance of healthy, loving relationships with relatives, and recognizes the function of family units as the basic core of our society,” says Noelene Blekkenhorst, director of FAMSA WC (Families South Africa Western Cape). FAMSA WC is a non-government organization (NGO) with offices located in Cape Town that specializes in family and couple therapy.
“The biological, nuclear family model as we know it – parents and children, with extended family like uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, nieces and grandparents – is far from being the only family unit in existence. It is often those that we spend the most of our time with that become our family; colleagues, housemates, friends, partners,” says Blekkenhorst. “In other words, those closest to your heart.”
International Day of Families provides an opportunity to promote awareness regarding issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting them.
How can you participate?
The symbol for International Day of Families is a house with a heart. “It emphasizes that families are the center of society and provide a stable and supporting home for people of all ages,” Blekkenhorst says.
To break the cycle of poverty, FAMSA WC has started a job creation project, where unemployed women make fabric hearts, which FAMSA WC will sell to raise funds to continue offering their subsidised services to anyone in need. These handmade hearts can be pinned to show support for the importance of family life, in South Africa.
“FAMSA WC’s dream is to put International Day of Families on the map through getting as many people as possible to wear a heart on 15 May,” says Blekkenhorst.
How can you celebrate those closest to your heart on 15 May?
- Stop and spend at least 15 minutes with those closest to your heart and remind them why they are important.
- Listen to those closest to your heart and meet a need they have.
- Wear a fabric heart.
- Have a meal together with loved ones.
- Create awareness and share your story.
How can you share your story?
Post on social media about what you did on International Day of Families with the hashtag #thoseclosesttoyourheart and tag those closest to your heart in your post. You can also tag @famsawc for your story to be reposted.
“You can also put a heart somewhere you can see it every day as a reminder of those closest to your own heart,” says Noelene Blekkenhorst.
Visit FAMSA WC’s website at www.famsawc.org.za for more information and to find out how you can get involved or seek help, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow them on Facebook (@FamiliesSAWesternCape), Twitter (@FamsaWC) or Instagram (@famsawc).