RISE AGAINST HUNGER
Last week #TwoDadsAndAKid was invited to spend 67 minutes packing meals for families desperately in need of nutritious meals as part of a global attempt to alleviate hunger in South Africa and obviously as part of the now annual, ’67 Minutes for Mandela’ initiative, where the public is encouraged to donate 67 minutes of their time to a cause that will celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday on the 18th July. Sadly my only claim to Nelson Mandela besides him being the first democratically elected President of South Africa after the dismantling of Apartheid is that we both have a birthday in July. I know I’m reaching here but I am definitely going to claim it.
The organization responsible for this initiative is Rise Against Hunger and they had established a partnership with the Tastic Brand of rice, which is part of the Tiger Brands stable and the brand responsible for this massive drive to pack 5 million meals for needy families in South Africa. This campaign also supports the United Nations objective of ending world hunger by 2030. That’s 11 years away and the rate at which the global population is growing (approximately 82 million people per year) of which approximately 1 in 9 will not have sufficient food security. Alarming figures that I personally believe will never be eradicated in our lifetime but hey, we are trying to make a difference and show that human beings still care about one another despite all the other challenges we have facing us, globally.
“World hunger is in the region of about 820 million people who are food insecure” – Brian Nell, CEO Rise Against Hunger
So off I went to the Sandton Convention Centre, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as the packing was going to be done at one of Joburg’s premier conference and convention venues so my immediate thought was of a very sanitized PR-type packing operation where no-one got their hands dirty and all they were supposed to do was pack pre-packaged bags of Tastic Rice in ‘pretty’ goodie bags that would be donated to a particular community by a celebrity with loads of press and media around.
Wow, was I surprised when I arrived! The usually stately convention centre had been transformed into an industrial production line where groups of about 15 – 20 people each had a designated duty to perform that ranged from pouring a mixture of rice, soya mince and dehydrated vegetables into a plastic bag, from there it was weighed and if it was the right weight it was moved down the production line to where the packet was compressed by hand with as much of the air being removed as possible before it was sealed and packed into boxes ready to be transported to the needy.
“… 26% of South African households do not have access to a nutritious meal…” – Brian Nell
Besides the smooth flow of the operation, two things struck me as being completely juxtaposed to what the prevailing mood in South Africa is, firstly the groups of people that were part of the production lines were South Africans from all walks of life. All races, all genders, all ages and everyone seemed to be getting along really well and having fun whilst being part of a process that was selfless and completely voluntary. Secondly, the entire ‘production’ was so slick from the kids from St. Davids giving instructions to the MC announcing whenever a new target had been reached or a new corporate had arrived to help pack and each time this announcement was made everyone cheered and clapped! ‘Joburgers’ really can work together and show the rest of the world how it’s done and how the example and inspiration of Nelson Mandela lives on to mobilize a nation into action.
“Providing people with superior quality rice as a staple for their everyday diet is just another way we are able to help them reach their full potential.” – Thembi Sehloho, Marketing Director for Rice and Pasta, Tiger Brands
It reaffirmed to me that South Africans can come together and work towards a common goal when those goals are aligned and have a common purpose. Poverty and desperate need are not restricted to any one race, gender, group or religious affiliation and when efforts are channeled in the right way and the needs of the needy are placed above those of the individual, collectively South Africans rise to the occasion, pitch in and make a difference.
I was super proud of myself for committing to 67 minutes of #TwoDadsandaKid’s time as a small contribution to making a difference in someone else’s life and honestly believe that these types of initiatives should be arranged on a more regular basis to bring communities together to rise above seemingly insurmountable challenges and support those less fortunate. I applaud the corporates, the media, the individuals, NGO’s, SMME’s and the general public for coming out and lending a hand. Kudos to Tastic and Tiger Brands and their respective PR Agencies for pulling together an amazing experience I can’t wait to be a part of next year!