“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice”.
It was these words by Nelson Mandela that inspired us at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to partner with Rise Against Hunger (RAH) for the Mandela Day initiative. The partnership recently saw the SAMRC employees gathering at lunchtime to pack a total of 10 000 meals to be donated to the Rainbow Educare in Greenpoint, Khayelitsha.
Made possible by the generous personal donations from our employees, the initiative was a rise to a call to celebrate Mandela Day by acting on the idea that each person has the power to change the world. Celebrated annually on 18 July, Mandela Day calls on South Africans and the international communities to celebrate Madiba’s life by giving back in a sustainable way that will support long-term change.
Professor Debbie Bradshaw, who is one of the sponsors of the event, said one thing that stood out about RAH is their commitment to end hunger in vulnerable communities – which is why the SAMRC chose to partner with them. “Ending childhood malnutrition is a critical factor for good health and development,” said Bradshaw.
Bradshaw, who is also Director of the Burden of Disease Research Unit at the SAMRC, added that what may seem like simple bags of rice, soya mince and lentils, represents hopes and dreams for people who cannot afford good nutrition for their children. She thanked her colleagues who initiated and supported the initiative.
“It has been a real honor to know that we are helping in the fight against hunger in such a unique and fun way,” she says.
The South Africa Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2016 found that just over one-quarter (27%) of children under-5 years are stunted, or too short for their age. Stunting is an indication of chronic undernutrition and has remained persistently high for the past 20 years.
For the SAMRC, giving back to the community whom the organisation essentially accounts to has always been an integral part of the organisation. Apart from the ground-breaking research that SAMRC conducts within these communities, there are ongoing funding mechanisms of young scientists from previously disadvantaged communities to help build a new human capacity for healthcare. Other community outreach initiatives of the SAMRC include the ongoing high schools’ engagement program and the most recently held “Take A Girl-Child To Work” project.