Packed with all the high emotions and all the big numbers worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, JAM unveils its ‘Real Amazing’ campaign to a star-studded gathering of guests at a glittering fundraising event held at the exclusive Avianto Wedding Venue on 15 September 2016.
Guests are pleasantly surprised to find that they themselves are the heart of JAM’s new campaign. They are the ‘amazing’. JAM is the ‘real’. The message this night is clear: JAM and its donors make a powerful combination.
The bleak reality South Africa currently faces certainly calls for a powerful force of change. Malnutrition is a major underlying cause in 64% of the deaths of children under the age of 5 years, and 1 in every 4 children under the age of 5 are physically and/or mentally stunted as a result of prolonged malnutrition.
It is a human rights issue – but it is an economic issue too. Malnutrition is causing mental as well as physical stunting in children – stunting that negatively impacts on our economy’s future skills development, future productivity, and places an overwhelming burden on the cost of healthcare.
“To put it plainly,” says JAM Founder Peter Pretorius, “if we do not feed the flames of change today, we’re headed towards a state of disaster. Malnutrition perpetuates the cycle of poverty, poverty that erodes values, poverty that veritably leads us straight towards a society that lacks any conscience at all.”
Pretorius is undoubtedly fuelled by an unquenchable passion to see the change that must come to the poorest in Africa, and he knows precisely how it will roll out, how it will be sustained, and the incredible economic impact that it will have. Pretorius is a practical man. But he is also a visionary.
“People didn’t think we could feed a child for less than R2 a day. But we did it. We produce our own formula, we manage our own logistics, we focus on efficiency, and we minimise our costs.”
JAM’s scientifically formulated porridge contains 75% of a child’s daily requirements of macro and micro-nutrients, and is served to children at schools across South Africa in cheerfully bright red bowls.
“People didn’t think that we could even begin to combat the seemingly unquenchable ocean of hunger on our continent, but those people don’t know that I won’t rest while I know that children are still going to bed hungry. Those people could never know how deeply Africa beats in my heart, they could never know that if I had to drive 200km to feed a child, I would do exactly that.”
When JAM first started its feeding programme in Mozambique in 1984, approximately 18,000 children received the daily sustenance they so desperately needed. Just over three decades later, JAM has served 1.6 billion highly nutritious meals to children in need. And while it is not an easy task to estimate the number of hungry people in South Africa today, Pretorius assures us that whether it’s 7 million or 14 million, JAM will be part of the driving force that eradicates hunger in our lifetime.
Tonight it is Pretorius’ wife and JAM Co-founder Ann Pretorius who warmly welcomes the esteemed guests who glide along the fundraiser’s red carpet. This is an evening dedicated to those who can, and do, make astounding differences in Africa’s tomorrow. An evening dedicated to making the past, present, and future donors feel as amazing as they truly are.
Stirring video presentations bring to life the bleak everyday reality faced by Africa’s poorest communities, but at the same time they vividly depict the incredible transformation that JAM is fuelling with the help of its sponsors and donors, many of whom are guests tonight. All of whom are reminded that they can continue to be involved in ways as unique they themselves are; they can give time, capital, skills, expertise, or even just their unique networks.
As Ann Pretorius’ gaze sweeps from face to face, she reminds her guests that if we take the reins now and make sustainable changes, we can look forward to a future of economic growth. “A future where girls and woman, in particular, are empowered, a future cycled by a perpetual wealth of knowledge and well being, and ultimately, a future lead by a society that we find brimming with both vitality and conscience.”
As irrepressible as her husband, she tells us that this is the kind of future we truly can look forward to when we work for it together. “Our future is brighter because we can connect JAM’s real heroes – those on the ground who work to save lives – with you – our amazing donors and partners.”
“The simple mathematics is that our planet produces enough food to feed every single man, woman, and child on it. We just need to develop the conscience and the logistics to deliver that food right to their doorsteps. And the results will be amazing.”
Tonight, nobody can say no to that kind of reason; more importantly, nobody can say no to that kind of heart.