Mensch thought-leader of the month
By Danny Diliberto, Founder of Ladles of Love
Many great leaders have conveyed this message. Not in these exact words, but in words similar. For me, this phrase resonates deeply. I truly believe that it is through love that we can change and heal the world.
I don’t believe the word love can be defined. It is such a big word that encompasses everything. It is love for oneself first and then love for all and everything around us. It’s the feeling of gratitude for what we have. It’s how we touch another person’s soul with our words, touch and actions. It’s our ability to respect, have compassion and empathy for one another. It’s in our smile, in our eyes, it’s the essence of who we are.
Ladles of Love was founded in 2014 and is based on an ancient Sanskrit word, Seva, meaning giving of yourself and wanting nothing in return. Similarly, G’milut Hasadim in Hebrew refers to the giving of loving-kindness, and is a fundamental value in the everyday lives of Jews.
Giving because you can. Giving because it’s the right thing to do. This in itself is love, a value I’m so blessed to witness through the countless acts of kindness, since I served my very first pot of soup — way back then.
From the start I also saw that we weren’t only feeding the souls of our homeless community, but also the souls of our volunteers. At our soup kitchens the divides of gender, race, colour and religion fall away — and what is left are human beings coming together to serve a hearty bowl of soup.
Then the first case of Covid hit our shores and by March 2020 national lockdown began. Unlike many, who I’m sure experienced fears of uncertainty, I experienced an absolute sense of calm. I knew exactly what I had to do — get out as much food to as many people as possible.
I had no idea how I was going to do it or where I was going to get the money. I just knew I had to take the first step, and the next day I did.
It has been a most special journey for Ladles and me. I have experienced both the hardship and the blessings that this pandemic has brought us all. Like never before, and in all the years I’ve been supporting those in need, I experienced such kindness and compassion from so many. People not only in South Africa but also those abroad. So great were these acts of kindness, our team came up with the term #LoveActivists.
So why have I chosen this particular topic of love and giving for my thoughtleader conversation? This is why — and note that all this happened from the time lockdown began:
Immediately, we did a callout to people to make peanut butter and jam sandwiches to provide extra relief to those we were supporting. Within weeks of this call, we were receiving around 20 000 sandwiches a day; and on Mandela Day 2020 Cape Town collectively made over 304 000 sandwiches in one hour. Although the daily number of sandwiches has dropped significantly, we have collected and distributed almost 4.8 million sandwiches.
With all the kind donations received from all of you, we’ve distributed almost 2800 tonnes of food through our 250+ beneficiary partners.
To our 1000+ Mama Warriors who have chosen to stand up and cook for their community, asking for nothing in return, we salute you. Over 20 million meals have been cooked and served to our children and adults, who are never sure of their next meal.
This is the power of kindness. This is the power of love.
It’s simple, and it works.
May we continue to be true #LoveActivists daily, and together may we continue to create one huge Ladle of Love!
Danny Diliberto is a member of The Mensch Network, an initiative of Mensch, a Jewish South African NGO empowering Jewish people creating change for all. Click HERE to read more about Mensch (www.mensch.org.za.), HERE for more about Danny Diliberto or HERE for the Ladles of Love website
• Published in the PDF edition of the October 2021 issue – Click here to get it.
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