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Stopping Hunger in Africa One Meal at a Time

Latter-day Saints from Randburg and North Riding congregations enjoyed a lively Mormon Helping Hands Day packing over 17,000 meals!

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have partnered with “Stop Hunger Now – South Africa” (SHN) in an effort of addressing the problems of hunger and malnutrition that are all too evident in South Africa, and throughout the African continent.

The Church’s National Public Affairs Director for South Africa, Robert O-Friel, recently met with SHN CEO, Ms. Saira Khan, and discussed ways the Church could partner with their organisation. Ms. Khan and members of her Board recently visited the Church’s Area Headquarters in Johannesburg, where they met with Area priesthood leaders, Humanitarian Directors, and others.  In a letter received following their visit, Ms. Khan expressed, “We are deeply humbled by [your] humility, integrity and dedication to the world’s most vulnerable communities and sincerely believe that synergies definitely exist between our organisations, but also between us as people wanting to make the world a better place.” She continued, “By whatever name we may call the Lord, the belief in HIM will continue, ensuring that we reach people one at a time…”

Stop Hunger Now – South Africa is a volunteer based meal packaging and results oriented nutrition programme, which was started in South Africa in 2009. There are currently two full-time operations (Johannesburg and Cape Town). Ms. Graca Machel is the Chief Patron of SHN SA. The organisation secures donations to host Meal Packaging Events, and culminates in the distribution of meals to various Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres throughout South Africa.

In partnership with the Church, members of the Randburg and North Riding Wards joined together on Saturday 15 August, as part of their Mormon Helping Hands service, to participate in one of these Meal Packaging Events. The lively activity was held at SHN branch in Germiston, Gauteng and was under the direction of Brian Nell, Branch Manager.

Over 130 Latter-day Saints arrived by the carload, eagerly signed in and put on their signature yellow Mormon Helping Hands vests, along with hairnets and gloves. After receiving instruction from Mr. Nell as to how the assembly lines would be structured, volunteers immediately began filling bags with the specified ingredients, weighing, sealing and packing boxes for distribution. One hour later, they had packed over 17,000 meals!!!

President William Pienaar of the Johannesburg Stake Presidency was touched by the enthusiasm from so many members of his congregation. He said it was a wonderful thing to be part of. Bishop Pierre Jacobs of North Riding Ward also shared his excitement in the turnout, stating, “We will definitely be doing this again!”

Some volunteers came with their friends, others brought their entire family. One such mother, Linda Phiri from Randburg Ward, brought her three young children, ages 4-11. The four loved working together, as even little Nothemba was eager to place stickers on the bags as her assigned task.

On the following Monday, members of Church Public Affairs were accompanied by President Jonas Tladi of the Alexandra Branch to deliver boxes of meals to Mankele ECD. SHN Distribution Coordinator, Lynda Mnisi, explained that there are 19 ECD’s in Alexandra, and this is just one of the centres that receive meals as part of their programme. Mankele and her children greeted the group with open arms and broke into a song: “Stop Hunger…We Love You!!!” It was very touching to see the smiles of gratitude on their faces.

In Matthew 25:40 it reads, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” This verse rang true throughout this wonderful week of service.

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