Graça Machel helps reduce world hunger

23 October 2015

Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, celebrated her 70th birthday which fell on 21 October, in her home country of Mozambique with a cause close to her heart.

Machel’s birthday was close to World Food Day on 16 October – an annual event founded by the United Nations to highlight issues of food security and global hunger. It inspired her to celebrate her special day early, by leading a meal-packing drive in aid of Zizile Institute for Child Development in Mozambique.

 Graça Machel

Graça Machel celebrates her 70th birthday with cake, and participating in a food packaging drive on World Food Day, on 16 October 2015. (Image: Stop Hunger Now, Facebook)

Machel is Stop Hunger Now Southern Africa’s chief patron and was supported by the Church of the Latter Day Saints, which provided the venue and volunteers for the meal-packing event.

The figures

Approximately 870 million people go to bed hungry every day. That is one out of every eight people on the planet, making hunger number one on the list of the world’s top 10 health risks.

“Hunger kills more people every year than Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined,” Machel said. “Even worse, it is the single biggest solvable problem facing the world today.”

According to Stop Hunger Now, stunted mental and physical growth caused by malnourishment in the first 1 000 days of life is mostly irreversible, and there are 3.1 million children in South Africa who suffer from household hunger.

Partnerships

The initiative was partnered by Barloworld Equipment, the dealer for Cat earthmoving machines, and car rental company, Avis.

“The company is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, a United Nations initiative which encourages businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation,” said Lesibana Ledwaba, the executive director of strategy, risk and sustainability at Barloworld Equipment. “These principles guide our activities across every facet of the business, including our (corporate social investment) policy, which drives our participation in initiatives such as this one.”

About Stop Hunger Now

Ray Buchanan, an ordained United Methodist minister, created the organisation because he wanted to see the end of hunger in his lifetime.

“Our mission is to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable and creating a global commitment to mobilise the necessary resources,” reads the website.

Machel’s place in history

Machel is unique: she is the only woman in history to have been first lady of two countries. As the wife of Samora Machel, she was the first lady of Mozambique from 1975 to 1986, until the president’s death in a plane crash. Later, as the wife of Nelson Mandela, she was the first lady of South Africa from 1998 to 1999.

A politician and humanitarian in her own right, she is an international advocate for women’s and children’s rights and in 1997 was made a British dame for her humanitarian work.

SouthAfrica.info reporter