Social and digital media have made the process of giving easy and convenient, connecting people across borders. With just a click or a swipe, you can increase your dopamine 'feel-good' levels by contributing to local and international social causes or organisations. All too often we think that for giving to be impactful, we feel the pressure of ‘go big or go home’. But when you live in a country such as ours, where the divide between those who have and those who don’t is so great, that even the smallest gesture can create long-lasting impact.
It is this spirit of ubuntu that inspired Motheo Makgoathane to do what he could with the ‘little’ that he had to help a colleague.
One day after work, Motheo dropped by a colleague’s house for a little kuier, but upon his arrival, he noticed that his colleague was visibly far from his usual bubbly self. His colleague hinted at the financial and emotional strain he’d been facing, and more specifically, he had been unable to pay his children’s caregiver her monthly salary.
As a client services team lead at MiWay, Motheo’s job is centred on helping clients, doing whatever it takes to solve any challenges they might be faced with. And Motheo’s response that day demonstrated that 'going the extra mile' is more than a company mantra, it’s the way he lives his life.
Without hesitation, and without saying a word, Motheo transferred a sum of money to his colleague’s bank account and hopped into his car to find the nearest ATM to withdraw the cash needed for the caregiver. He says he put himself in his colleague’s shoes and “imagined how I might have felt if I was unable to take care of my own children”.
“We treat our clients like family, and we take time to listen to what’s happening in their lives. Our clients are not simply ‘premiums’ which need to be paid. They’re experiencing real-life issues, same as all of us. For me, it’s the same with my team members, my colleagues. They are people first, human first. The man I helped is more than a colleague, more than a friend, he’s my brother,” says Motheo.
His close-knit family upbringing is what Motheo credits for his ‘family management style’. He grew up in a large family environment at his grandparents’ house in Atteridgeville which was full of cousins, aunties, and uncles just about every day. While his grandparents ran a small business hiring tents, tables, chairs, and other equipment for community events, what made them remarkable was that they were always willing to help, even those families who could not afford to cover the costs.
“Seeing their generosity and the impact it made on the community, especially those in need, taught me the power of giving. My parents taught me humility and gratitude for what I had.”
Motheo’s mother was an occupational therapist, so he witnessed first-hand how a person’s life could change in an instant. From his father, an HR practitioner, he learned just how rewarding it could be to help others overcome their challenges and to reach their full potential.
“My father was always there for me, he taught me that family is everything,” Motheo recalls fondly. “Our colleagues are our second family. And in a family, we carry each other.”
In a drive to recognise and reward employees who embody the spirit of ubuntu and the culture of going the extra mile, Motheo was nominated and received an award for being a Service Hero for stepping up and stepping in for a colleague.
“I keep my Service Hero certificate on my desk as a reminder to never forget about each other. It’s also a reminder of my father’s wise words: ‘In life, what you put in is what you get out,’” says Motheo.
While the world celebrates Mandela Month, everyday givers such as Motheo are the ones who contribute to creating the country Madiba would be proud of. The country we’re all proud to call home.
The MiWay Service Heroes awards were introduced to recognise staff who go to extraordinary lengths to help clients or show qualities of extraordinary humanness and servant leadership towards their colleagues and the company.
MiWay is a licensed non-life insurer and Financial Services Provider (FSP 33970).