Collective Action: Five Of The Greatest Causes In The World

The power of human empathy is strikingly evident in the number of charities in South Africa, and the world over. It is impossible to pick the best acts of kindness, but there are a few causes that have created significant ripples in the lives of thousands of people. Here are five examples of the best charities and causes in the world.

Smile Foundation

The Smile Foundation is unique in its mission to improve the quality of life of children with facial deformities. This foundation combines a team of medical professionals to provide much needed surgical interventions to better the life of these children. The Smile Foundation was formed in 2000 through the combined efforts of Nelson Mandela, Dr. George Psaras (then Head of Department of Plastic and Reconstructive surgery at the University of Witwatersrand) and through extensive funding of equipment utilised by the Departments of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. This noble cause transforms the lives of thousands of children with facial defects – giving them renewed hope, renewed opportunities and a reason to smile.

Rape crisis

In a world where violence against women and children has reached epidemic proportions, Rape Crisis is the world’s leading and most noble cause for justice, education and recovery from rape. Rape Crisis provides counselling, medical attention and long-term support for victims of sexual violence. Before the Rape Crisis movement, the notion of sexualised crime had always been marginalised – stigmatisation of victims, victim-blaming and discrediting of the victim based on patriarchal values. In addition, Rape Crisis also leads hard-hitting research and academic papers on the understanding of rape and rape culture. This mission aims to ensure that “more survivors report rape, the number of rape incidents decrease, survivors experience reduced secondary trauma within the system and the conviction rate of rapists increases thus providing a deterrent to rape”.


Greenpeace is an NGO that campaigns for all environmental causes – from deforestation and pollution to over-fishing and anti-nuclear causes. Their mission is to create a future free of toxins, defend oceans, support sustainable agriculture, work toward nuclear disarmament and catalyse energy revolutions. Greenpeace has offices in over 40 countries in the world, has been fighting against environmental destruction since 1971 and serves as the voice for 2.8 million supporters. Based on research, lobbying and diplomacy, Greenpeace pursues their goals in non-violent, high-profile campaigns.

Medecins Sans Frontieres

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is a humanitarian organisation that provides emergency medical assistance in countries wrought with armed conflict, epidemics and natural disasters. MFS has no political affiliation and provides care to all people – regardless of race, gender, religion or any other affiliation. MFS is comprised of brave doctors, nurses,social workers, psychologists and other humanitarians that have left the comfort of their own homes to make a difference in war-torn nations – in spite of imminent danger. Thousands of professionals and administrative staff work on humanitarian programmes in over 70 countries. In addition, MFS speaks out publically against unchallenged political interests, unreported abuses, and inadequacies in health systems to better serve the people of the world.

Amnesty International

This leading organisation has over 3 million supporters worldwide. Founded in London in 1961, Amnesty draws attention to human rights abuses and campaigns for the strict compliance of international laws. AI pressurises governments by mobilising and promoting public opinions on unacceptable atrocities. In 1977, the organisation won a Nobel Peace Prize for its “campaign against torture,” and in 1978 it won the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights. Amnesty harnesses the power of collective action; people in countries whose personal well-being and security are assured, stand together in massive numbers to save people they will never meet. In this way, AI is the true embodiment of human empathy, both globally and as a charity in South Africa.

Anna lives in Cape Town, South Africa and strongly believes in giving back. She is involved in numerous charities in South Africa and enjoys creating awareness for what she believes in.

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