I have been to many of our field operations in the African countries that JAM serves, however each time I see the devastation that poverty causes in these communities, I remain overwhelmed by the experience. JAM’s programs act as a beacon of hope in places where all hope is lost.
During one of my more recent field trips in Mozambique, I was struck and overwhelmed by how the concept of sustainability has been implemented and adopted by the communities that JAM supports. What particularly caught my eye was how much sustainability has become an intrinsic part of JAM’s work, which has created fruitful and thriving agricultural gardens and fields that are helping to develop real change in the Mozambican agricultural sector. The school gardens and machambas (fields) and nutritional school feeding programs are complementary programs that form part of JAM’s holistic approach and vision of Helping Africa help itself.
JAM is an acknowledged leader in nutritional feeding, but it is heartening to see its growing capacity in agricultural development. I believe that farming and agricultural development is imperative to the development of Africa. However without a future generation that is strong, healthy, and educated, reforms in the agriculture sector that will lead to a flourishing Africa will remain only a dream.
Seeing focused, healthy school children that benefit from nutrient rich meals learning about agriculture and taking these lessons home to their parents and teaching them is a cherished memory. What’s even more encouraging to experience is to see the parents roll up their sleeves and participate as members of Parent Teacher Association’s (PTA), putting in time to improve the school’s gardens and fields. Far from the negative impression that one reads about in the media, the impression I got from Mozambican communities was of proactive and interested communities who are willing and able to help themselves; all they needed was a helping hand.
Despite its challenges in food security, Africa is capable of feeding itself and even the rest of the world. A startling statistic is that 60% of the world’s available arable land in Africa, yet only 10 % of it is farmed. If you add to this fact that 32% of Africa’s GDP is based on agriculture and 65% of Africa is employed in agriculture; you begin to acknowledge agriculture is vital to Africa’s stability and future, but its performance is poor considering its potential.
With this in mind, it’s so refreshing to see the amazing rippling fields of communities that have become successful farmers through the help of JAM and their own sheer determination. It makes me feel truly blessed to be part of an organisation that, together with its partners, is creating thriving agricultural sustainable outposts in rural African communities that are helping to turn a food insecure continent into a continent of plenty.
JAM’s approach to sustainability is multifaceted; rooted in deep connections to Africa and being cognisant of the importance of its relationship to the outside world. Today, more than ever, sustainability is a crucial pillar of all Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) programs, especially in the present economic climate of shortage. Today, more than ever, NGO’s need to prove that our programs work, and hopefully will become self-sustaining enterprises that lead to lasting change.
As a reputable and responsible NGO, it is inspiring to know that JAM constantly measures its programs against sustainability and asks whether it is putting the correct structures in place to develop the capacity of individuals that make up the communities and schools that we serve from an economic, social and community perspective. Seeing the exhaustive work that our staff members invest into communities, you realize that sustainability is not simply about having a job, it is a passion and calling for all of us at JAM.
Clint Still, Donor Relations Officer, JAM International
We encourage our donors and anyone else who is keen to get involved with JAM’s programmes to get in touch and perhaps visit our programs in Africa to see first hand the work our communities do and feel the beating heart of Africa rising. You can contact JAM Canada on email: firstname.lastname@example.org.