What are human rights?
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life.
They can never be taken away, although they can sometimes be restricted – for example if a person breaks the law, or in the interest of national security.
These basic rights are based on shared values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence. These values are defined and protected by law.
(South Africa’s Constitution – 1996)
“Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.” United Nations description.
What about responsibilities?
“I accept the call to responsibility that comes with the many rights and freedoms that I have been privileged to inherit from the sacrifice and suffering of those who came before me. I appreciate that the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa are inseparable from my duties and responsibilities to others. Therefore I accept that with every right comes a set of responsibilities”.
(A Bill of Responsibilities for the youth of South Africa – 2011)
At its inception SAVF was founded for the less privileged and vulnerable. SAVF is still relevant as it advocates and supports the rights of the vulnerable, sometimes voiceless, and marginalized in society as beneficiaries.
In its Credo SAVF clearly outlines and emphasizes its belief in the ‘…dignity and potential of every human being.’ This is echoed in the newly adopted ethos:
- SAVF supports non-discrimination which includes but is not limited to racism, sexism, gender equality, differently abled persons and age-ism, amongst others.
- The organization supports and values the potential, contribution and well-being of its personnel, volunteers and beneficiaries.
The SAVF “Colour a Life” publication brims with stories of the effect of touching lives and treating them with dignity. Johan, a psychiatric patient, found a home in SAVF Ons Hulde Home for the Aged and after a struggle to adapt, he found happiness and everybody enjoys having him as part of the family. The lonely, the homeless, alcoholics and people finding a meal in a dustbin, are described in this book, as finding company, family, peace and healing through SAVF services.
SAVF endeavours in various ways, be it via training, seminars and programmes, to ensure that personnel, volunteers and beneficiaries are empowered about their rights and responsibilities.
Bridget Seabela & Dr Blanché Verster