First off, André, thank you so much for taking the time to chat to us about the wonderful work you and your team do. One gets a little emotional when witnessing the change, The Southern Lodestar Foundation has been able to create, in such a short space of time.
Can you tell us a little more about your wonderful journey of founding the organisation?
The idea and birth of SLF came out of the MDS run in Morocco in 2017 - the spiritual fast from a desert run gives direction that can only come from such a journey. The clarity of where to place my energy and purpose became clear. Love the children through service. The way to set out the road map for the foundation came from reading a book - “Utopia for Realists”
I needed to establish a sustainable platform that aligned to our abilities to create positive impact on our fellow human beings. It starts with nurturing and developing our future to steer the world to greater consciousness - this future lies in our children - hence my starting point was to establish a nutritional solution so that our children have the ability to take on the road ahead.
This plan created a positive and natural energy and accelerate the program from zero to 50 000 children within two years. Sustainably - every day.
It seems you too believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Please walk us though a typical morning for one of your teams - providing a nutritious meal to the country’s little scholars.
This is based on the fact that most of our little scholars come to school hungry. Their last meal was the meal they had at school the day before. We cannot expect the child to walk to school and arrive on and empty stomach and then jump straight into learning.
The breakfast has to powerful outcomes:
1 - The child is motivated to come to school
2 - Once nourished; the child has energy and resource to focus on the educational program; interact with fellow classmates and teachers as well as be active
Many schools offer a lunch - this is too late for the child coming in hungry. Many schools hence move the lunch to mid-morning. The SLF Breakfast Program allows the school to move the lunch back to Mid day - hence two meals can be served - powerful stuff
The foundations core values are: ‘Nourish, Educate, Thrive and Inspire.’ These sentiments seem to be engrained into the fabric of the foundation. Can you tell us a bit more about why it is so important to concentrate on each of these touch points and how they work hand-in-hand?
Every child has to have a solid foundation to grow - Nourishment for us is a human right and forms this foundation.
Nourishment allows the child to take in the education they are exposed to. The combination of effective nourishment and education allows the child to thrive and develop their respective skills in class and on the playing fields - all underlined by healthy social interaction due to the energy they are obtaining. This does not only lead to mutual inspiration to embrace life and the magnificence of the ordinary but also imagine that energy going home; that energy growing up; that energy helping others. We simply cannot discount the power of a healthy child and the impact this has on the family unit; the broken home; the isolation that was; the community; the society in which they grow up in.
Its inspiration that can continue into adulthood through their constant development - its legacy building
Not only does the foundation focus on food but nutrition as well – how important would you say nutrition is in ‘paying it forward’ and equipping future generations?
Food can fill a stomach, but it does not necessarily grow the child. It’s critical that children; their teachers and their minders understand the fundamentals of nutrition and the impact quality food has on the development of the individual. The essential vitamins; micro-nutrients and proteins we ensure are in the meals we talk about and educate on.
Quality Nutrition is key for real and sustainable impact - the knowledge of this fact is critical. This knowledge passed on will allow our children to pass it onto future generations and I pray into a future where Africa is the bread basket of nutrition; education; community upliftment and unity that she inherently deserves to be.
Andre` you speak about ‘activating unlimited potential’. Would you say that being an active individual has helped you to unlock other dimensions of your mind, and what role has nutrition played in your athletic success as an individual.
It is important I be an example - through my actions - my eating; my lifestyle; my training; my service. I have been amazed how the power of service, more than anything else, has gifted me the potential to grow on so many levels - to educate; to feed; to support; to protect; to love. These actions; in turn; activates in others positive outcomes and actions in so many ways.
My running allows me to run through and with communities I wish to serve; nourish and love. I have the firm belief that running on the ground sparks ideas and motivates those we run with and meet on our journey.
You reason with leaving a legacy of love. Which is an incredibly true and beautiful sentiment, because the feelings of love, outlive even our memories. What is your personal dream for the foundation? What is your legacy of love?
The legacy of love is that of UNCONDITIONAL SERVICE. It does not choose; divide or ignore one child. My dream is that all the actions in the foundation show love and that we truly grow with impact - impact that is SERVICE IN LOVE. This example can only leave eternal impact on our children and society.
Since the start of the foundation – the organisation has been able to feed over 20 000 children, provide nutrition to 58 schools and train / educate 36 caregivers on nutrition. For anyone considering the sheer logistics of successfully executing a project like this – on the daily – will appreciate how wonderful these numbers are!
With so much to be achieved in a day, the ‘dream team’ must be 100% committed to the project. Have any of your colleagues / employees inspired further development of the foundation in any way?
Since the above numbers were published, we have reached over 50 000 children in SA on a daily bases and achieved over 2 million meals in our neighboring countries during the COVID period. This all comes out of my fellow colleagues inspiring other partners to get involved. The fundamental energy of service and love rubs off daily. Our team is small, but their energy attracts many, many more individuals and entities to walk this journey with us and to grow impact.
The book of Matthew tells of a well-known proverb ‘give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.’ The foundation not only feeds but aims to educate in combination with that. Are you hoping for some young farmers to immerge one day?
That is an absolute dream - not only farmers but individuals who want to add value to the crop the farmer grows - adding value on our continent; from teachers to Nutrionists to food technologists to scientists to marketers to business development managers - all educated in our schools - growing up to build our nations at home - we can because we serve, because we love.
In closing we would like to thank you and your wonderful team for partnering up with all of us here at Matsidiso. We are also passionate about growing and nurturing our community (although in a different sort of way). With the help of our wonderful Matsidiso Fam we have been able to raise a total of 4634 meals to date! We have been incredibly grateful for this contribution and will be continuing to donate per sign-up on our site.
I so wish to meet your team and get to know you - BLESS YOU
As fellow South AfriCANS’s we are so proud of the impactful work, The Southern Lodestar Foundation is doing and we trust that, that un-waivered loyalty will have immense impact on the futures for our children. Go well.
If you wish to contribute to The Southern Lodestar Foundation directly kindly do so here - https://lodestar.org.za/contribute/ where they now have the option to donate one just meal (only R1.32) or a monthly donation!