One child dies every eight seconds.
One of the reasons we traveled to South Africa this summer: to survey potential organizations where my youngest daughter might possibly serve orphans who’ve lost their parents to AIDs. She’s completing her grad degree in Counseling, with a specialty in Play Therapy.
Joint Aid Management, JAM — South Africa’s best kept secret — was our first appointment. Our taxicab driver had trouble finding JAM, but once we did, WOW. Their complex is amazing.
What is JAM?
During our meeting, we learned about JAM’s history and how they’ve morphed into the humanitarian organization they are today. We walked the property and watched two movies about their work that brought us to tears.
We learned about JAM’s founder, Peter Pretorius (seen in the portrait above, who “saw the light” after he was abandoned in a refugee camp for ten days. He lived the plight of the refugees, with no food and no care. He watched people around him die EVERY day, and helped bury the bodies. What he saw during that ten days broke his heart. He returned home wanting to help feed the starving people where the need was the greatest.
JAM’s website describes them as follows:
“Joint Aid Management is a South African founded, registered non-profit Christian humanitarian relief and development organisation, with 25 years experience in sustainable development.”
The organization helps almost half a million children in need each year. They focus on the community as a resource to support the children through:
- school food programs to offer on nutritional meal each day,
- drilling for clean water convenient to the community,
- help with proper sanitation,
- assisting vulnerable children and orphans,
- programs to combat HIV/AIDS,
- community training and skills development,
- agricultural training,
- assisting projects to bring income into the community.
JAM’s little red plastic bowl (visible in the portrait above) is their signature. Each bowl holds what may be the only meal the child gets each day — a porridge-like nutritionally-fortified food ration made of corn, soy beans, sugar, and micronutrients.
Right now, JAM is actively fighting back against starvation and human suffering through the schools in several African countries:
- 237,000 children fed each school day in Mozambique;
- 202,000 in Angola;
- 2,200 in Sudan, with plans to increase support to 15,000;
- 24,000 in Zimbabwe, in partnership with World Vision;
- 4,948 in an informal settlement in Orange County, South Africa.
We learned in our meeting at JAM that feeding children in South Africa has been traditionally lower on the priority scale because needs, until recently, hadn’t been as desperate as in other African nations. With the influx of poverty-stricken immigrants from neighboring countries, the situation has changed.
JAM plans to feed 100,000 children in South Africa within the next five years.
We toured JAM’s headquarters, a complex with an extensive logistics network that includes food storage, vehicle maintenance, housing units for employees, multimedia lab, and office space. JAM employs 700 full time employees, with over 3,000 volunteers. They make every attempt to employ locals in the communities they serve, offering job training and income support to help self-sustain the effort as time goes by.
JAM operates a fleet of 170 vehicles, many purchased at auctions and rebuilt for their rugged logistics requirements. These trucks travel over rough terrain where roads may or may not exist. Believe me, after driving in Zambia, I completely understand what wear and tear is expected of JAM’s fleet.
Partnering with JAM, you can “help Africa help itself.”
You can donate online to feed a child for a year. Or fund water drilling, HIV/AIDs support, or emergency relief. The choice is yours. As we move into the giving season, consider giving friends and family the gift of life for a child.
Save yourself a trip to the shopping mall. Give a donation in honor of your loved ones. What better gift can you give?
JAM has a US presence in downtown DC and one in Alexandria, Virginia. You can start here:
900 19th Street, NW, Suite 400; Washington DC, 20006