Statistically, in South Africa, 3.3 million children live in households where there is child hunger, 14% live in households where children go hungry, 17% of children under the age of 10 suffer from stunting, and 10% of children under the age of 10 years old are underweight.

Non-governmental organisation Ikamva Labantu has partnered with 100 percent not-for-profit social enterprise Relate Bracelets for the Fuel2Grow campaign to raise funds – R2.5million – to bridge that gap by providing 650 children in Ikamva Labantu’s after-school programme with a cooked nutritious meal every day in 2016.

“Food insecurity in South Africa is very real. Children can’t play, learn, dream, or be inspired when their immediate need is food to fill their tummy. They need fuel. Hence the Fuel2Grow campaign,” says Ananda Nel, Director of Ikamva Labantu.

“If we can’t provide our kids with a meal daily, our efforts to inspire and educate them will be lost as their focus will be on the physical hunger they are experiencing.”

To raise funds, Ikamva Labantu has partnered with top South African band Freshlyground to design a Relate bracelet which will be sold for R50 in all Cape Union Mart stores. The bracelet is also available in stacks of 10 from Relate’s online store.

Kyla-Rose Smith from Freshlyground says: “We aim to inspire future generations of South Africans through creativity and music to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. We support Ikamva Labantu’s Fuel2Grow campaign because we believe that no child should arrive at school or go to bed hungry. We know that, right now, there are over 3 million children in South Africa who experience hunger every day! As parents, we understand just how important good nutrition is in a child’s development and wellbeing.  We wish to see all South African children thrive and reach their full potential.  Believing that kids should be kids no matter their circumstances, and with the intent of “fuelling creativity”, proceeds from the sale of our special bracelet will go toward Ikamva Labantu’s daily feeding programme – fuelling kids to be their unique best.”

Kyla-Rose Smith from Freshlyground says: “We aim to inspire future generations of South Africans through creativity and music to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. We support Ikamva Labantu’s Fuel2Grow campaign because we believe that no child should arrive at school or go to bed hungry. We know that, right now, there are over 3 million children in South Africa who experience hunger every day! As parents, we understand just how important good nutrition is in a child’s development and wellbeing.  We wish to see all South African children thrive and reach their full potential.  Believing that kids should be kids no matter their circumstances, and with the intent of “fuelling creativity”, proceeds from the sale of our special bracelet will go toward Ikamva Labantu’s daily feeding programme – fuelling kids to be their unique best.”

Relate Bracelets does not rely on handouts or fundraising, but rather earns money for social change in South Africa through the sale of handmade beaded bracelets. In the process they have created more than 350 jobs, for the young closers and packers and Ikamva Labantu’s seniors who thread the beads in the townships.  Many of these seniors care for their own grandchildren and the money they earn from threading supplements their small pensions.

Ntombentsha Nziweni, 76, is one of more than 300 seniors earning additional income to her pension from Relate Bracelets through Ikamva Labantu’s seniors clubs. This money helps her care for her own grandchildren.

“Securing food for the whole month with my meagre pension is a monthly struggle, and I have to borrow money sometimes to make ends meet,” she says.

Knowing the children in her care will have a hot meal provided each day means she can use her income for other necessities.

One thing that has become overwhelmingly clear to Ikamva Labantu in their years of experience helping people: children simply cannot learn if their tummies are empty.

“It is because of this realisation that we have embarked on this ambitious Fuel2Grow campaign, and we hope that many South Africans will travel this journey with us,” says Neil.

To support the campaign, purchase a Relate bracelet from Cape Union Mart.