A Visit to Singita's Feeding Program
On a recent trip to Singita Pamushana in Zimbabwe, Empowers Africa Communications Officer Gabriella Gentil had the privilege of spending the day with Shepherd Manwire in the villages surrounding the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. Shepherd is the liaison for the Singita Community Development Trust and the Malilangwe Trust – two organizations that work to improve the lives of 19,000 children who live in the remote communities surrounding the reserve by providing them with a daily meal.
Singita has partnered with the Malilangwe Trust, a nonprofit that conducts philanthropic outreach in the communities surrounding the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe to run a very successful feeding program. The program has significantly improved the children’s nutritional well being as evidenced by the records of each participant’s height and weight over time. Furthermore, school attendance is higher than ever. The feeding program – which was developed in response to the 2002 drought that caused large-scale malnutrition and illness amongst children – provides nutrient-fortified corn-soya porridge to approximately 19,000 children in the villages surrounding the Malilangwe Trust every day.
The program’s strategy seems to be working effectively. Each community creates their own feeding schedule instead of assigning each feeding point a specific time to feed the children. This ensures the children are fed at a consistent time every day. Each and every package of porridge includes a detailed ingredient list and nutritional facts as well as easy-to-follow cooking instructions.
30 metric tons of this porridge is distributed and quality control is a priority. A sample from each batch of porridge is taken to a government lab for examination, and once approved, the package is stamped with a certificate to ensure the food has not been contaminated. What makes this logistical process run smoothly is the positive relationships Singita and Malilangwe have with the relevant ministries and leadership. To ensure the cleanliness of dishes the children are fed from, drying racks have been built at each feeding point and high up enough that local chickens and dogs cannot contaminate them. Furthermore, easily accessible water sources have been provided so the women can conveniently wash their hands before they feed the children. Another positive development has been the implementation of well-designed, heat-conserving stoves. The design features one small gap on which the pan is placed, retaining extra heat, enabling the women to bake bread on the surface of the stove. The chimney on the edge of the stove prevents overheating which protects the women from getting burned.
Gabriella described her visit to the Mwenje School, one of the schools benefiting from the feeding program, as the most impactful part of her visit. Founded in 1984, this primary school is an exemplary model of what schools all throughout the continent should be teaching. As part of the core curriculum, Mwenje, who is a former Outward Bound Guide, teaches environment studies. The students’ wildlife and ecological knowledge was incredible; one group of students even recited animal names in Latin. These children are growing up with a sense of respect and admiration for the land and animals surrounding their communities, and will undoubtedly become conservation ambassadors. Equally important, are the nutrition lessons children have every day. All over each classroom are displays about what food groups and nutrients children need to properly develop physically and cognitively.
Empowers Africa is very proud to be supporting the incredibly successful programs of the Singita Community Development Trust and the Malilangwe Trust in Zimbabwe! If you would like to learn more about the programs please see www.singita.com/community/community-partnership-programme-malilangwe