Dr. Jim Blessman is the creator of Blessman International, a faith-based organization which works to meet the needs of children and families in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Blessman International — a strategic partner of Convoy of Hope in South Africa — creates programs which help provide food, water, sanitation, and critical knowledge to participants.
Convoy: Not everyone can travel to Africa and see the hunger crisis for themselves. Describe what it looks like.
Blessman: In South Africa, it’s not a war-torn area where you see people with pot bellies and skin changes because of malnutrition. Kids here are more in the realm of stunted children. The untrained eye might not even see it until you ask the ages of children. They typically are about three years older than you would guess. They’re chronically underfed, and that affects their brain development and stature.
Convoy: What effect has the COVID-19 pandemic had on our efforts this past year?
Blessman: In our area, many kids who are vulnerable will get their food at school and program centers. But when the government became worried about COVID-19, they locked down both of those. It was very frustrating knowing that so many kids still need food. But we’re doing all we can.
Convoy: How is Convoy of Hope working to end stunting and malnutrition in South Africa?
Blessman: Convoy of Hope is [critical] to ending malnutrition in South Africa. Convoy of Hope provides 1.4 million meals each year … and helped us teach families about agriculture so they can sustain their own nutrition.
Convoy: What motivates you to keep meeting needs?
Blessman: I’m a physician, so it’s in my DNA to help people. It energizes me … Whenever I feel a little discouraged, I look around for somebody I can help. It just makes me feel better.
Convoy: Is there anything else you want to say to our readers?
Blessman: Yes, it’s been a 10- year partnership with Convoy of Hope. It’s been a tremendous blessing to lots of people.
This story was first published in Convoy of Hope’s Hope Quarterly magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.