Mama Emma Ngubane opened Sizankankane Crèche in Embo Valley in KwaZulu-Natal almost 27 years ago because her heart ached every time she saw children sitting around playing in the dust. At 83-years-old and with a lifetime of experience, Mama Emma shows no sign of stopping. In fact, her youngest grandchild, Tsiyamo Dlamini, is now enrolled at her school. “All the children love the porridge and in fact, they make sure we feed it to them on time every day and if we are a little late, there is trouble,” laughs Mama Emma.
This porridge, which is now enjoyed by 44 000 children between the ages of zero and six, is the cornerstone of Joint Aid Management South Africa’s (JAM SA) Nutritional Feeding programme. JAM SA is currently supporting 870 child care centres in many of South Africa’s informal settlements. Produced in our factory in Pietermaritzburg, this highly nutritious porridge (CSS+) provides children with 75 percent of their daily micro-nutrient requirements.
JAM SA is a South-African founded humanitarian relief and development organisation established in 1984. JAM’s vision is to ‘help Africa help itself’. JAM is now providing relief to 1.1 million children across Africa (South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, South Sudan and Rwanda). JAM strongly believes that without education, there can be no development so schools provide an important platform for the work that the organisation does.
In South Africa, JAM SA focuses on the youngest children because they need a firm foundation for the sake of our country’s future. Undernourishment leads to a number of problems in a child’s development, including stunting and deficiencies in crucial vitamins and minerals, which may result in growth retardation, long-term impairment in mental and motor development and low resistance to disease. The South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES-1) revealed that the youngest boys and girls (0-3 years of age) had the highest prevalence of stunting (26.9 percent and 25.9 percent respectively).
Nutritional feeding is not all that JAM does to contribute to our beneficiaries’ early childhood development (ECD). Most of the child care facilities they attend are nothing more than a corrugated tin shack, with holes in the walls, leaking roofs and unfinished floors. This leaves the children vulnerable to the elements. There is seldom running water and they use an assortment of buckets and old tins for a toilet. These facilities also lack educational toys and materials needed to stimulate the children's learning ability. JAM SA’s Child Care Centre Makeover programme therefore focuses on the upgrading and improvement of these facilities.
The benefits of focusing resources into one centre means that the children benefit meaningfully from:
- New or improved classrooms facilities;
- Safe playground equipment, as well as
- Stimulating toys and educational books and posters.
Project costs depend on the needs of the child care centre allocated to the group but the first line item of the budget is always the feeding of the children at the centre for the period of a year. The makeover project is also a fantastic opportunity for corporate staff, school clubs or international groups to get involved and spend time in one of South Africa's most needy communities.
JAM SA’s third programme is Agricultural Development, which seeks to target food insecure communities at household level throughout South Africa. In addition to working with each child care centre to develop food gardens, the organisation is currently focused on the vulnerable communities of Orange Farm and the West Rand in Gauteng.
The fresh fruit and vegetables harvested from these gardens go a long way in boosting the nutrition of every meal provided by the school, meaning that the children are not just reliant on their morning porridge for their required daily nutrition. JAM SA also works hard at fostering a mutually dependent relationship between schools and communities, where school feeding also stimulates local production that eventually leads to sustainable livelihoods. In addition, these gardens provide the school with a 'physical classroom' to enhance learning by making the curriculum come alive. Educators use the garden to teach learners in a practical way, from Natural Sciences and Mathematics to English, Arts and Culture.
The training of micro-farmers includes agronomy, biodiversity, pest control, land use and management. The second phase focuses on tree nursery establishment as an income generating activity. The third and final phase of the project will focus on setting up institutions like resource centres, training facilities and forums, and women’s cooperatives.
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