WHEN the United Nations endorsed July 30 as International Friendship Day they transformed it from a commercial enterprise which started to boost flagging greeting card sales into an annual cross cultural event.
In a modern world where we have access to so much information about our cultural differences we can lose sight of the fact that we are all humans. Friendship is one uniting feature.
Everyone needs love and just because people are different it doesn’t mean we don’t all need the reassurance that we all have friends we can rely on.Take Ali Steenis for example. When her class mates were asked what one ambition they had they came up with things like ’be a millionaire’, ‘start a business’, win a major sporting event’ Ali’s dream was much simpler, and far less ambitious than theirs - all Ali wanted was to learn to drive, sounds simple but a tall order for someone legally blind.
It gave her best friend, Brooklyn Dana, food for thought though. One night at the high school prom the lights were switched off leaving just teeny tea lights glowing. Ali said to her friend: “They are so beautiful.”
Brooklyn was puzzled, but explained that when main lights went out she could see tiny lights against the backdrop of black. For Brooklyn that was a light bulb moment.
She set about organising a ‘light’ driving alley at school to make Ali’s dream come true. With their classmates they hired a driving instructor to guide Ali down the alley on her 18th birthday. Ali was thrilled, but realised she was so lucky and thought of how she could pass on her own good fortune.
Ali asked her friends to donate money in lieu of birthday presents so she could buy warm drinks and snacks for the homeless, living on the streets in their home town.
“I’m very blessed,” said a delighted Ali afterwards. “And I know how lucky I am to have such great friends.”
Maybe on this year’s International Day of Friendship we can all count our blessings and try to help someone less fortunate than ourselves.