Human Rights Day — Will you take action on this holi-day?

SA Harvest
4 min readMar 21, 2022


By Saina Shelton

Today, as I read the news — headlines of wars, suffering, climate destruction, mass shootings, hate crimes and so many other depressing occurrences on the daily in our world, I thought about the upcoming “holiday” on Monday that is Human Rights Day. I could not help feeling an overpowering sadness. Holidays are supposed to be “holy” days, in their origin, special religious days. In North America for example, the connotation is “any dedicated day or period of celebration”.

I started to wonder why we would commemorate “human rights day” when we are living in a time of prevalent human crisis. From the horrific war in the Ukraine where so many are being killed or displaced, to right here in South Africa, where we are faced with the realities of constant suffering due to inequity, cycles of poverty, violence that lead to difficult, tormenting lives for so many — lives riddled with health problems, emotional and mental suffering, substance abuse, and generally the sense of loss of a life that is being lived, rather than one that is merely being survived.

I also started to wonder about the connections of human rights, love, beauty and dignity. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Judge Denise Fisher. In conversation with Judge Fisher, she said “At the soul of human dignity lies the right to assume that one is worthy of being nourished. Denial of this basic tenet of humanity causes trauma which is deeper than hunger.” How remarkably true! Her comments made me remember James Hillman’s words in a discussion about the pursuit of happiness where he says, “There is no happiness without the sense of beauty and without being in love with life”. This sentiment resonates in Judge Fisher’s words.

Speaking of the South African Constitution, she continued, “Our Constitution names the dignity of the human being as the first among its founding principles. Our Bill of Rights is the most progressive in the world, and yet people still go hungry here. If you are under or malnourished, this is a barrier to entry into every functional part of society. You cannot maintain your dignity within any part of the social space if you are hungry. If one has to scratch in a dustbin to get sustenance, one is not only inadequately fed, the fact that you must take another’s rubbish and put it into your body is the greatest indignity imaginable.

Your humanity cannot accommodate that for an extended period of time. We all have a relationship with food, and if you look at Western ideologies, food is more than physical nourishment. It’s an integral part of how we experience our dignity and ourselves. Food should be beautiful. One of the most important parts of the experience of eating is the manner in which the food is presented to us. It’s part of the dignified experience of eating.”

As I listened in awe of Judge Fisher’s synopsis of the complexity of the human right to food and dignity, she laid at our door the call to action that we must all undertake in this space of fighting hunger and food rescue. She said “The way in which you package food is just as important as the nourishment in it. That’s a challenge for SA Harvest. You want to give something to someone in a way that makes them feel valued. SA Harvest’s task is not only to get the food into the mouths of people who need it. It is to feed their sense of worth.”

At SA Harvest, we believe in breaking the cycle of charity because the tragic irony of charity is the consequence of indignity that it creates for those it serves. By examining the root causes of hunger at a systemic level, we believe it is possible to break the cycle.

Human beings are resilient and there is enormous strength in the collective. We can accomplish the unthinkable and solve behemoth problems if we join hands to uplift one another and fight for change. As I watch how so many have mobilized to help those displaced by the war in the Ukraine, it’s a reminder that we have the ability to take action. I’m inspired by the generosity of so many to contribute energies in various ways to solve for these human indignities. On this holi day, I invite you to take action: be an advocate against hunger. Sign our petition and ask your government to create a ministry of food to revamp the food ecosystem and end hunger in South Africa.

Saina Shelton is an ex-Googler, international keynote speaker, and marketing expert with 16 years of experience. She spent 12 years at Google/YouTube specialising in brand, performance and influencer marketing, content creation, live streaming, digital media and pioneering new advertising formats on YouTube.

Currently, Saina is the Head of Marketing and Communications for one of the fastest growing non-profit organizations in South Africa, SA Harvest, where she has revolutionised their brand and marketing strategies resulting in exponential growth. Saina also started Insights Augmented, an entrepreneurial venture that focuses on providing customers with sales trainings and facilitating workshops across areas like digital marketing, business strategy, team development & culture.

Learn more and connect with Saina @

Saina Shelton, SA Harvest Marketing Lead



SA Harvest

SA Harvest is a leading food rescue and advocacy organisation on a mission to end hunger