Today is Africa Day! This year’s theme is focused on nutrition, and how malnutrition and food insecurity can be addressed. In honour of this theme, we’re sharing the latest news from Mpisi Primary School and how the Nkosi Superbar nutrition programme is progressing.
In order to determine the effectiveness of the Nkosi Superbars and to identify signs of malnutrition, the Grade R students of Mpisi Primary School will be weighed and measured at regular intervals. These measurements will be compared to a global database. The students’ weight, height, head circumference and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) will be measured. The MUAC measurement is done with a MUAC tape, which is designed to identify malnutrition.
We recently visited Mpisi with Save a Life owner Joe Niemand to take the first measurements of the students. A measuring station was set up in one of the school’s classrooms and the four Grade R class groups were measured. These measurements will be used to establish a baseline. Future measurements can the be compared to this baseline, showing us whether the Nkosi bars are having a positive influence on the students.
Everything You Need to Know
As part of our commitment to community development and contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, we have an ongoing partnership with Mpisi Primary School, a school in nearby Hoedspruit. Earlier this year, we started with a new phase of this partnership, which we decided will focus on nutrition. Many of the children at Mpisi will have their only meal of the day at school, as they come from impoverished homes where their parents aren’t always able to provide adequately for their families. We know that before we can look at other physical or educational activities, such as getting the kids involved in gardening or letting them experience the wilderness at our reserve for themselves, we have to tackle the most vital issue of all: ensuring healthy, well-fuelled minds and bodies. This is why we started working with the Nkosi Superbar initiative and started raising funds to provide the children at Mpisi with a consistent supply of Nkosi bars.
In South Africa, food programmes are under strain and in need of creative and sustainable interventions. Malnutrition is causing the irreversible loss of physical and cognitive ability among our children and is a leading cause of death among children in South Africa. Wellspring, a non-profit organisation that helps businesses and communities take a stand against child malnutrition, developed the Nkosi Superbar to deliver maximum nutrition at the lowest cost. The Nkosi supplementary bar contains essential macro nutrients that are crucial for the development of children under the age of six.
Due to the huge cost involved in providing these bars throughout the year, we decided to start the programme with the students in Grade R. This would benefit 160 students under the age of six years – the age group most vulnerable to malnutrition. The bars are provided to Mpisi on a monthly basis.
We are very grateful for the support of NTT Toyota Hoedspruit, who are generously donating 50% of the monthly costs of the bars.
In addition to the Nkosi Superbar initiative, we are collaborating with the principle and teachers of Mpisi Primary School to establish vegetable gardens where more nutritious food can be grown on site. This food can then be added to the students’ lunches, which are made on the grounds of the school by willing mothers. We are also helping to facilitate a Scouts Programme at the school. Through Scouts, we will introduce extracurricular activities at the school that will assist in mental and personal development. The success of these projects has the potential to chart the course for numerous little minds and bodies.
We are incredibly grateful for the leadership of Mpisi Primary School’s Principle Clever and his fleet of amazing teachers. They are always looking for ways to provide their students with the best start to life, in spite of the difficult circumstances that many students come from. Our own nursery elephant carer, Khensani, attended Mpisi in her junior years.