Joe Niemand’s latest creative project is saving lives

Joe Niemand (PHOTO: Facebook)

No one who knows Joe Niemand from his many Christian worship albums, his ministry at Mighty Men Conferences, or his visionary Daniel The Musical production which was launched in Jerusalem in 2019 would be surprised to hear that he is passionately pursuing another creative project.

But many may be surprised to hear of the completely new direction he has taken and how it relates to his understanding of Kingdom creativity. His new project is saving the lives of malnourished children through a highly-nutritional, low-cost, food bar called the Nkosi food bar.

A grim reality is that children are dying of starvation in South Africa and about 30% of SA children are permanently physically and cognitively stunted as a result of malnutrition.

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Joe explains more about his current mission in his responses to questions from Gateway News:

Child malnutrition is a different space to where you are known — music. What led to the shift and how does it feel?

I felt lead to change my focus in 2018. My mission is creative restoration, but not necessarily in the creative industries. I am focussed on aligning business, communities and individuals to create value for the restoration of our nation. Safeguarding children and their potential is the point of that spear.

In the time before the first lockdown, I felt led to start speaking to business people to encourage them to take on the plight of the defenceless, not as a burden, but as an opportunity. If you are a believer, you must believe that there are limitless resources available to those who would use it for the priorities of God’s heart. I believe that the Church taking it’s place as the body, that has been given the mandate to care for those who can’t fend for themselves, is key to the restoration of our country. We gave that mandate to government, but it was given to us. We are on the verge of a tectonic wealth transfer and I believe the keys to that, have been hidden in the eyes of the vulnerable.

You are fighting malnutrition with a food bar. Tell us about the bar. How did it come about?

The bar is a nutrient dense bar designed to lift the weekly nutritional intake of children in this case. We have found a way to balance effective logistics, storage, taste, price and nutritional value in a product that started out of the cooperation of farmers, food scientists and dieticians and was refined in the field with the specific need we are trying to meet. The result is a product now used and endorsed by a world- record-holding athlete and loved by children all over the country. We are not in retail as we are focussed on solving malnutrition, but bars are available online at www.nkosibar.co.za

Note: The Nkosi Superbar is a project of Wellspring, a registered NPC

Nkosi Superbar

I believe there is a story behind the name of the bar?

[Joe referred Gateway News to an explanation of the bar’s name on his website. See that explanation below:]
Wellspring founder Joe Niemand walked around with the name Nkosi for a couple of days when one of the dieticians asked what the product would be called.

She is a veteran of Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital where she has seen first hand how severe malnutrition destroys the lives of South African children. Joe knew something special was happening when he shared the name Nkosi with her and she became emotional.

What she shared with him was a story that would confirm that the team was on the right track!

Here is that story: Trinette had been asked by doctors at Baragwanath to give care to a girl who was the victim of severe malnutrition and on a ventilator in ICU. She was 11 years old and weighed an unimaginable 8kg.

They asked her to just try and make the girl comfortable as she was beyond all hope of recovery. Trinette refused to give up on her. Trinette made a decision and from that point went to see the girl every day to pray for her. She developed a feeding program for her and over the following months this little girl kept fighting and responding to her treatment.

She made it off the ventilator and later made it out of ICU and then got so strong that she started waiting for Trinette everyday to do her hospital rounds with her.

The little girl ended up beating the odds life had thrown at her and not only made it back from the brink of death with love and nutrition, but walked out of that hospital, was adopted and is living her precious life.

They called her Nkosi.

Nkosi Superbar is dedicated to every child that anyone has given up on!

How does the project work?

We identify early development centres that are in need and have a turnkey solution to providing nutritional safety nets for centres for a minimum period of a year. All that is required from a partner is the funding to adopt a specific centre/s. We take care of providing a nutritional safety net in the form of Nkosi Superbars on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and fortified porridge meals on the alternative days.

The value of this is that it raises the dense nutritional intake of children in the centres without adding a burden on the carers. We monitor and measure and report on the progress. It also creates a very valuable early warning system to identify individual cases that need deeper interventions. The Nkosi Save A Life campaign is a child safety programme designed to do one thing and that is save the potential of children being stolen by malnutrition and a programme we believe will save lives in the times we are entering now.

How is the project going?

[Joe responded to this question by referring to a thank-you letter he wrote to a business leader in the Eastern Cape who is supporting the cause. He said feedback of the impact of the project is consistent in all areas. Below is an excerpt from Joe’s thank-you letter]

When we started the child safety program, with your support in April 2021, we knew that the Eastern Cape was the province where children were most exposed to food and nutritional insecurity. Our research of the economic trajectory of the province and the social challenges that accompany it, have been borne out by what we are seeing on the ground.

The Nkosi Save a Life Program, is making a meaningful impact on the lives of Early Childhood Development age children across the entire area. Teachers and carers have seen a fundamental difference in general wellbeing, energy and concentration levels, cognitive and physical development. It is such a joy to receive the consistent feedback from all our different partners.

It is not overstating it to say that there is a growing crisis among children. Recently 13 children, that we know about, passed away from malnutrition in Kirkwood in the Eastern Cape. Many more are fighting for their lives in hospital. The Nkosi Program and others like it are a bulwark against severe malnutrition and a way for us to create a district-wide early-warning-system in these centres. When we identify children that are under nutritional strain, we can support them. This is of great importance in the times that we are in. It is only interventions that are committed to long term change, that will save lives. Your commitment to making a real difference rather than just doing an optics exercise, is making a fundamental difference in these communities.

It is a fact that as the economy worsens, the most vulnerable will be impacted most. It is children in their critical developmental stages, who cannot speak for themselves, collectively bargain or protest. They do not have the ability to stand up for, or provide for themselves. We cannot do everything that needs to be done, but what we can do, will save the lives of children in the time we are entering now. Many corporates want to make a difference in the area that they operate, but because the economy is limited in these areas, willing supporters are hard to find for the communities that need it most. Your company is now a critical vanguard in this respect for children in the area.

You can find out more about the Nkosi Save a Life programme online at https://www.nkosibar.co.za

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