BREAD AND JAMJohni TollnerWhen a mother tells her child to finish eating their food “because there are children starving in Africa,” it may just be a joke to some, but it is a sad truth for many. There are millions of starving children across the continent. Many within our own borders. Fortunately for them, there are people who care. People who go out of their way to make sure these children stay fed, clothed, and safe and the organisations that make it all possible.
Joint Aid Management (JAM) based in Gauteng, is one of these places. The organisation was started 38 years ago by Peter Pretorius, when a church mission to Mozambique left him distraught after seeing an entire village in Inhambane quite literally starve to death.
Fresh from an outreach trip through sub-Saharan Africa, JAM representative Liezl Eykelhof explained how the organisation has grown from strength to strength, helping children not just locally, but across the globe.

“Our trip was hectic. In Mozambique, we visited settlements for those displaced by violence in Cabo Delgado – JAM has helped, in partnership with Unicef and others, to feed children at schools, giving take-home rations and providing clean water through boreholes and pumps,” said Eykelhof.

“We heard horrific stories of family members being decapitated, shot or abducted. People are traumatised while trying to restart in another area where host communities also view them with hostility.” 
Other countries also visited with aid were South Sudan and Angola.
“South Sudan is a ‘dirt poor’ country, despite its natural wealth,” continued Eykehof. “Years of conflict and natural disasters such as floods and drought, means that about 80 per cent of the population live on less than $1 a day. But JAM is working there, providing emergency food relief and encouraging gardening projects.”

She further explained that although Angola is a rich country, people out in the rural areas do not share the wealth.

“There is also the worst drought in 40 years (belied by the beautiful greenery and huge Baobabs). We visited malnutrition clinics, where tiny children are fighting for their lives. JAM provides therapeutic milk for those babies as well as emergency food parcels and school feeding. "
The organisation’s most endearing and commendable campaign to date, however, is their Red Bowl project. They have a collaborative approach to early childhood development, beginning with sufficient nutrition.
They produce their own fortified food blend, rich in micro-nutrients – one bowl of this nutritional porridge provides children with up to 75 percent of their daily protein requirements. R30 can feed a child for an entire month.
“While we help a lot of people, it is very difficult knowing that there are still so many others who also need help,” she said in conclusion. “So, although it can feel good to know you are doing something to alleviate suffering, there is also this desperate desire to do far more.
This is what keeps us going, we have to do our very best to try and reach as many of those suffering as possible.” For these children it’s the difference between life and death.