Youth Day commemorates an important day in South Africa, where the brave collective action of students shaped the way people around the world viewed South Africa on Wednesday, 16 June 1976, according to the foundation.

The foundation says this was the start of the uprising against the government regime where the action of the youth ultimately led to a better future for South Africa.

"While we remember the youth that had the courage to stand up against an unfair system and the struggles they endured, we also want to use Youth Day as a reminder to everyone that the youth of today are dealing with a different struggle altogether, and that is hunger," says Ghairunisa Johnstone-Cassiem, director of Mustadafin.

Johnstone-Cassiem adds, "Dealing with hunger and malnutrition will severely impede a child's development, school performance and future. This is a struggle that approximately 600 000 children experience every day."

"For us, hunger is one of the biggest and most challenging social issues that we deal with on a daily basis. Hunger makes it more challenging for children to focus on schoolwork and can influence the dropout rate in many communities," says Johnstone-Cassiem.

Johnstone-Cassiem adds, "It is unacceptable and disheartening when a parent must choose which child may eat today because there simply is not enough food to feed each child."

During the month of May 2022, through various school feeding programmes, Mustadafin provided 15 000 meals to children in need at five schools. Their team worked in communities within the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and as far as Zimbabwe to feed as many people in need of a nutritional meal as possible.

Mustadafin says that its approach to tackling hunger is primarily focused on reaching out to impoverished schools to address classroom hunger. This initiative aims to help enrich children with nutritional meals to not only reduce malnutrition in children but also improve their concentration in class.

"There foundation appeals to the general public, institutions and businesses of all kinds to support an organisation, like Mustadafin, that works towards poverty alleviation and food distribution programmes in communities," says Johnstone-Cassiem.

Johnstone-Cassiem adds, "We need to treat hunger as an urgent social issue that affects the future of the entire country. In 1976, youth played a courageous role to influenced the future of South Africa. The youth of today are our future leaders and influencers of our country; however, they struggle to reach their full potential when they have to worry about where their next meal comes from."

For the next three months, Mustadafin will be doing a food drive in rural areas and schools. The foundation says that with unemployment statistics of up to 90% in some areas, people are dependent on feeding schemes and organisations such as Mustadafin for a meal.

"We need individuals and businesses to donate as many essential food items as possible, especially during these cold winter months where at least one warm meal a day can make a huge difference in someone's life," says Johnstone-Cassiem.

Johnstone-Cassiem concludes, "Let us always remember the courageous youth of 1976 by making a difference in the lives of the current youth and future leaders of South Africa."

To donate any items or to learn more about their work individuals can click here.

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