Organisations receive grants at a time where sexual violence persists with disquieting regularity in South African schools.

The Vital Foundation has donated R 8.5 million to over a dozen charities around the country fighting one of South Africa’s greatest scourges – women and child abuse. R2.7 million was the amount raised for the first funding cycle of 2015 backed by income derived from the R1 makes a difference campaign.

The donation has come at a time when the pandemic, prolific amongst South African schools is having a devastating effect on the health and education of our learners, mainly girls.  With actual incidence difficult to determine as many cases go unreported, a 2008 Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation report reflected a dramatic rise in reported sexual offences in recent decades. From 15,000 rapes in 1986, the figure had almost multiplied by 4 less than twenty years later, with a striking proportion of the populating being male perpetrators.

Launched two years ago, the Vital Foundation is the charitable arm of Vital Health Foods, the country’s oldest and best-known vitamins and nutritional supplements brand. The foundation is committed to funding non-profit organisations that fight women and child abuse while at the same time becoming a premier resource for information-sharing around the issue.

“Our fundamental principle is ‘healthy bodies, healthy minds’, which implies that a well-looked-after body can make better, more informed choices – especially when it comes to helping others, like women and children in distress,” says George Grieve, Managing Director of Vital Health Foods. “So, as a business, but also as practitioners of healthy, wholesome living, we can make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Organisations that each received grants ranging from R65 000 to R150 000 included:

  • CSC North in Gauteng, a professional network of social workers with a proven history of providing solid family and child care to people in despair, irrespective of race or religious beliefs;
  • Youth For Christ in KwaZulu-Natal, active since the 1980s, which targets primarily street children and marginalised youth, creating opportunities for the holistic development (mental, physical, spiritual and social) of young people;
  • Families South Africa (Highveld Ridge) in Mpumalanga, which focuses on family preservation, issues around HIV/Aids, eradication of violence, and poverty relief in under-serviced communities;
  • Cape Mental Health, which provides mental-health services through 22 community-based programmes throughout the Western Cape for adults and children with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities;
  • Ons Plek, which opened in the Cape Town city centre in the late 1980s, and aims to prevent abused and traumatised girls from becoming street children by providing a warm, caring home and ultimately returning the    girls to society as soon as possible;
  • Lifeline Zululand, Johannesburg and Western Cape, which are telephone-counselling centres offering support to those experiencing emotional distress;
  • Umtata Child Abuse Resource Centre, which provides training to children to prevent child abuse and empowers the community and victims of abuse;
  • Badisa in Bellville, Western Cape, which provides professional services to children, families and the elderly, disability care and those struggling with substance dependence;
  • Vanderbijlpark Trauma Counselling Empowerment Centre, which provides counselling (among other services) to victims of domestic and child violence;
  • Women of Vision, which provides therapy, counselling, day-to-day assistance, medication, safe houses and support in various forms;
  • Dockda Rural Development Agency in the Northern Cape, which works with women-led community organisations in rural villages to enhance their leadership skills and address wellness;
  • Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development in Gauteng, which promotes women’s and children’s rights, awareness, advocacy and training.

“Business can play a larger, more meaningful role in alleviating women and child abuse,” Grieve observes. “I believe we have a responsibility, in the interests of a more stable, thriving society, to do as much as we can to make a difference. “

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