April is Health Awareness Month and while many are encouraged to eat the right foods, the question has to be raised as to whether people in South Africa - especially the poor - are getting the right nutrition to live a healthy life. South Africa's current drought crisis has caused a decline in farming output and has heavily increased food prices. This has had a devastating impact on food security and the wellbeing of the poor as they are unable to afford food that contains the right nutrition that is essential to fight off infections.
Clover Mama Afrika, Clover’s CSI project, has a number of determined women who try their absolute best to make available the correct nutritious foods in their communities.
Mama Sipiwe Solomons from Hazyview, Mpumalanga, has her own food garden and piggery, which makes it possible for her to provide a feeding scheme for orphans through which she delivers 30 food packages a day, supporting 10 high schools and catering for 87 children in the programme. She also supplies the hospice in her community with food packages for 20 patients and shares 40 bunches of spinach, twice a week for 40 families. With her food garden she is able to generate some income on a monthly basis, which is sufficient to keep her going and help her community get their five fruit and veg a day.
Mama Shirley Merime from Ennerdale, Gauteng, who is the founder of the Ebenezer Care Centre, uses her food garden to feed 120 pre-schools, 55 children from her own centre, 75 elderly people, 18 of her own workers and 60 underprivileged people from her surrounding informal settlement each day.
Food garden champions
Some of the other Clover Mama Afrika food garden champions are Mama Florence Nyakiso from Botshabelo, Mama Dawn Irons from Ubombo and Mama Pauline Mokae from Randsgate. The phenomenal Mama Florence, who provides a safe haven for over 250 children, manages to feed an average of 7000 young and old per month. Mama Dawn who has been badly affected by the drought is still managing to feed 26 children and 10 community members daily, and 70 community members every Sunday. Mama Pauline feeds 150 children through her feeding scheme and supplies food to nine orphans and 15 adults on a daily basis, as well as 50 church members.
Professor Elain Vlok manager of Clover’s corporate services and founder of Clover Mama Afrika, said: “I am so proud of our mamas. Even though our mamas have been hit hard by the drought crisis they never give up and continue to supply food to their communities, which helps community members get the nutrition they need to keep going. With each Clover Mama Afrika we are able make a difference in so many lives and we hope to reach even more communities throughout the rest of this year.”
A humble project
The Clover Mama Afrika project started as a humble project 12 years ago and has since become Clover’s flagship CSI project. The project has, to date, appointed 41 mamas throughout South Africa. These remarkable women collectively care for over 15,500 children and 2500 elderly people, many of which are abused, orphaned, homeless and vulnerable.
Clover Mama Afrikas who have food gardens are:
• Thokozile Ndlovu – Ixopo;
• Doris Ndingane – Keiskammahoek;
• Sipiwe Solomons – Hazyview;
• Rosie Mashale – Khayelitsha;
• Mary Lwate – Winterveld;
• Dorah Semenya – Seshego;
• Mary Visagie – Upington;
• Glenrose Mashiqa – Mdantsane;
• Rosemary Machogo – Mangaung;
• Phumelele Mtshali – Umlazi;
• Albertina Bloko – Alexandria;
• Alinah Marumo – Thabong; and
• Lizzy Magama – Olievenhoutbosh.