On 4 May, in the early morning rays, while the rest of the city was still rubbing the sleep from its eyes, a bustling energy was already in the Hatfield and Hillcrest air. All roads led to the Rag Farm as a hub of creativity, competition and compassion where student structures gathered for one of the biggest events on the res calendar: Rag of Hope Day. With the theme “Kindling Spark”, the aim was to touch as many lives as possible through this year’s team spirit.

Rag (short for Reach Out and Give) is an outreach society based in Hatfield campus. On Rag of Hope Day, UP’s faculty houses and day houses join forces to unleash their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Originally set for 24 February, Rag of Hope Day hit a snag and had to be postponed. After some serious behind-the-scenes hustling, the new date was set. Excitement levels were at a high, with faculty houses such as Law House and NATHouse living it up in their malpakke and creating fun Tiktok challenges and countdowns for the big day. One may wonder as to what exactly Rag of Hope Day is about or what Rag is. All these structures have one mission, the only difference being what they sell or the location of their gazebos on the day of the event. Partnering structures must design and craft unique products from recycled materials and sell them to fellow students. While the primary goal is to spread kindness and generosity, there is a healthy dose of competition thrown into the mix. Each participating structure is out to prove that they can make the most profit. It was a battle of creativity and determination as teams pulled out all the stops to come out on top. Other than kindness meeting fundraising, Rag of Hope Day is an epic day for students to unwind by engaging in thrilling sports and challenging games. From the gym guys who can compete in the tug-of-war games, to simpler games such as kicking a ball, there is no shortage of adrenaline-pumping excitement to keep the crowds entertained.

Various structures began setting up for the big day at around 4 in the morning. As the sun rose and sleepy students got out of bed, markets opened to the public along with the games, food stalls, and gazebos. Overall, the attendance number was far less than expected, but fun indeed met fundraising. Once all the gazebos had been set up, the judges walked through each one, judging them based on their stall presentation and their craft creativity. The event had an opening act by the Tuks cheerleading team, followed by various talented University of Pretoria’s students for the UP’s Got Talent competition. Sports for the day only comprised of; goalball, 5 aside soccer, touchdown rugby, and tug-of-war. All adrenaline-filled activities were hosted by the University of Pretoria student sport and occurred at the Uitspan Hillcrest campus where the duration of each competitive game was between 5 and 10 minutes.

Participants were not limited to faculty and day houses; residents also took part. LUMINOUS partnered with DOCENDO and their stall ensured that students could participate alongside team members. Bibliophiles and housemates donated old novels and textbooks to be sold by the partnering structures. Textbooks worth over R1000 were sold for as little as R20. Couples or friendship cliques who love keeping souvenirs, walked away with personalised bracelets. Art rocks, specially handpicked across the Hatfield campus and surrounding residences, were up for grabs. With global warming at an all-time high, LUMICENDO contributed towards sustainability and economical friendliness by creating keychains made from macrame. Macrame is one of the oldest art forms, mainly used for knotting techniques due to its versatility. While Europeans mainly use this technique to create hammocks, it is also used for crafts such as bracelets. Macrame’s sustainability lies in how it does not deplete future resources, can be reused, and is biodegradable. Additional benefits of macrame include how much engaging in this art technique relieves stress and improves one’s motor skills. The Humanities executive committee partnered with smarties, the Golden Key executive committee, as Golden House. They presented their creativity through photo frames made from cardboard and covered in coloured papers. They also sold flower bouquets, garlands, and doilies made from wool. For the fashionistas on a student budget, the MATHULA stall was the best place to be, thrifting clothes ranged from as little as R10. The ‘plant mommas’ could add new members to their family tree by purchasing plants from the CollegexNerina stall with vases made from plastic bottles painted in primary colours. They also sold games such as tic-tac-toe for those much-needed game nights after stressful semester test weeks.

Give it up for the crafty creations and colourful charms where ZITIYANI sold wool wall décor starting at the low price of R25.00 along with handmade rainbow bracelets. The students hard at work at the stall explained how these bracelets worked towards inclusivity, and each colour in their customised sets represented something far greater than profit. ZITIYANI spread the message of positivity by selling positivity sticks and fascinatingly shaped ashtrays. As hosts of the event themselves, the RAG stalls tried to reach out to their audiences through creativity. The irony of this effort was the lack of creativity, with most stalls not really ‘giving’. When one took a step back it became difficult to differentiate the crafts of each stall. They sold bookshelves and stationery holders which were made from cardboard and hand-painted in various colours. They also sold bird food holders which were made from 2 litre bottles. Talk about thinking outside the bottle! NIVICTA, the vinyl magicians, took a creative turn with their bowls made from vinyl records standing out as something completely different. NIVICTA explained how heat was used to shape the records into creative forms. It is well known that music is versatile, but NIVICTA definitely introduced customers to a new musical era.

The remaining stalls were stood out for their ability to interact with their customers. Stalls such as HOUTEHOF were a henna haven, and customers awakened their inner child by having their bodies painted with their chosen henna designs. This henna haven was a steal for dynamic duos as they basked in exclusive discounts. NATBIT’s stall provided customers with the closest thing to a sip-and-paint soiree with tables where customers hand-painted their own purchased vases. Here, customers could unleash their inner Picasso and have their masterpieces to be taken home.

With the most colourful malpakkes in sight, students were not the only target market for the day, parents could be seen supportively smiling and joining in on the fun. The day ended with STARMERCII (Stars Mentorship and Commercii) being announced as the winners of event. STARMERCII secured two wins for the day by being the overall Rag of Hope Day winner and first place in Rag Of Hope Day sports.

This year’s Rag of Hope Day had something for everyone. Whether one was there to shop until they dropped, marvel at the talent on display, or cheer on their favourite sports competitor, boredom was never in the question. While the stalls may have lacked creativity, there was no shortage of positivity within the day’s electric current of excitement.

Karabo Moriri
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