By Lindsey Kin
The name, Helping Hand is derived partially from the nickname, Hands, which was given to Lima during his college years in his multimedia classes – he laughed and quickly stopped to explain: “It’s not what you’re thinking.” Having been the student who was very quick to pick up programming skills, his fellow classmates would continuously ask him to give them a hand with this, that and everything else in between. With the name ‘hands’, together with the motto of going in where he can and lending a hand to whoever needs his help, Lima said it just made sense to call the project the Helping Hand initiative. And so, the mission to help others, with the help of Lima’s friend’s began, and like they say in Portuguese, “O resto é história” … The rest is history.
Having been established seven years ago, the Helping Hand initiative is different from your conventional charity group in that it is an initiative that not only helps its own beneficiaries, but also other organisations in need. However, Lima explained: “My aim is to get the average Joe involved in something he has not done before and start a chain reaction.” For example, Lima encouraged his friend, Nicola, to help out at a soup kitchen one day because she had always wanted to do some sort of charity work, but didn’t know where to get involved. Despite all the chaos, from not knowing where to stand or who to hand the soup to, Nicola came out loving what she had done and wanted to do more, and now does her own charity work. “If I can get someone to do some charity work, as little as it may seem, and continue this on their own accord, I have accomplished the aim of the Helping Hand initiative.” In terms of helping other charity groups, Lima’s Helping Hand initiative is the go-to group. He explained, “If I see that your charity needs help, such as organising a bakkie for the day, I may know someone who is able to lend you a vehicle and I can help you in that way.” As the founder of the Helping Hand initiative, Lima understands how hard it is out there when no-one wants to help you out. “We want to help people; charities; and those who haven’t done charity work before, but want to get involved; we are here to help others.” And in the pipelines, Lima is currently working on the mandate to include animal shelters to the list of charities the Helping Hand initiative supports.
Lima believes that you need to ignite that initial spark in others to want to help, just like his mother did for him. And although back in 2004, when Lima assisted his mom on her charity Christmas drive because his brain told him, “Miguel, your mother is ill so go help her”, it was that moment that ignited his interest to help others less fortunate than himself. “With my friends, I try to encourage physical donations, such as apples, as opposed to monetary donations – not that I’ll say ‘no’ to any money that may come in – but, I do feel that if you go shopping somewhere with the intent of getting something that is not on your shopping list for someone else who is in need, it’s not a two-minute thing that you can do via email or EFT; you are actually going out of your way to do something physical for a good cause.” He added: “We are very hands-on. I try to stay away from the bigger charity organisations that already have the sponsoring, and rather hep the smaller ones.”
Out of the many stories that Lima shared with me about the organisations that they have assisted and continue to support, one tale that pulled on my heart strings was about the Elize Baker Home in Turffontein, situated directly opposite Cotlands. Baker, who is a single mom, and lives in a house that Lima describes as “no bigger than the Mugg & Bean at Killarney Mall”, takes care of 53 children who have been abandoned and left on the street to survive, as well as a homeless man and an elderly couple. The children do not sleep like us, said Lima, “They side-by-side across the bed, to put it across as a picture, the way in which sardines are packed into a can, this is how these children have to share a bed at night.” Baker has two rooms for the children; each including a single bed and two bunk beds. Most recently, with the help of other organisations, Baker has built a brick shed with a metal roof outside for the boys to sleep in – one can only begin to imagine how bitterly cold it must be in winter. “We try to help Elize as much as possible by donating clothing, blankets, food, toys and other bare necessities.”
Lima’s Superman hands are inspiring other to also lend a Helping Hand – the same way in which his mom inspired him. What is great about the Helping Hand initiative is that it is not just one cause, but a group that sets out to make a difference by also helping other organisations. Do you know of any charities or organisations that may need a Helping Hand? Post your comments on out blog.
For further information On the Helping Hand initiative and its current projects, or to get involved, visit Facebook