To the Clover Mama’s Smarties Week in South Africa

The concept of Clover Mama Afrika is to empower and boost the pride and livelihoods of disadvantaged communities in South Africa. Clover Mama Afrika is a women’s group consisting of powerful “mamas” who already made a difference in their communities. The mamas are community members who people can trust and to whom they go when in need of help and advice. The mamas have a set of viable skills, which they in turn pass on to others in order to empower communities. All of this is done whilst caring for the most vulnerable of their community like orphaned and abused children, people living with HIV/AIDS and senior citizens who need a helping hand. Today there are 28 mamas that care for 12.800 children and more than 1300 elderly across South Africa. The first mamas received training in baking and sewing, nowadays they have many more activities from quilting, food gardening to welding and more.

Each year the mamas leave their communities to join the Smarties Week, to learn new skills or sharpen up on existing skills. The week provides the mamas the opportunity to come together, learn together and share difficulties and triumphs. Every year Professor Elain Vlok, the founder of Clover Mama Afrika invites Health[e]Foundation to include health-related workshops during the Smarties Week. This year, Liesje Tempelman who has been involved in many trainings as South African representative of Health[e]Foundation joined Fransje van der Waals. During a vibrant afternoon workshop, they conducted part of the Health[e]Living training, specifically focusing on nutrition.

Many aspects of nutrition and food were discussed; from the importance of the first 1000 days in life to the recommended new diet for the 21st century. Exercises stressed the importance of a diet consisting of a variety of food to ensure the intake of the big five (iron, vitamin A, Folic acid, magnesium, and zinc), what is healthy and what not, reading food labels and how to discuss this wisdom in the community. In order to remain healthy besides good food, we should be moving: the physical exercises came with lively examples and were combined with many dancing movements!

The next day when Fransje and Liesje joined the group after the bread baking session they were received with applause and had to judge the freshly baked goodies: were they healthy or not?