The horrific statistics on abuse seem to be growing at an exponential rate and Vital Health Foods is no longer going to let the statistics stack up, action needs to be taken. This is how the idea for the Vital Foundation was born; it was created to support organisations in the fight against woman and child abuse.
The Vital Foundation was formed by family-owned and run Vital Health Foods, with George Grieve as Chairperson. Vital Health Foods has been in the business of keeping families healthy in South Africa since 1947.
Founded on 5 August 2013, the Vital Foundation aimed to add its contribution to addressing the growing scourge of woman and child abuse. It recognises that a sustainable behaviour change approach is needed to add to the efforts of the many organisations and individuals who are making a difference in addressing this issue.
The Vital Foundation is funded from the proceeds of the R1 makes a difference campaign. Vital Health Foods has pledged to donate R1 from the sale of every Vital supplement to the Vital Foundation. The donation will be made on the consumer’s behalf, so while you are looking after your health and that of your family, you also make a difference to the lives of others.
All the funds collected from the vitamin sales will help build a wall of protection against woman and child abuse by supporting organisations who offer support to survivors so that the wounds of abuse can start to heal and perpetrators can be held accountable and where possible rehabilitated.
The Vital Foundation wants to help build healthy families and healthy homes. We cannot stand back anymore and watch the statistics pile up – we have to become active corporate citizens. Our Foundation will be funding organisations already doing sterling work in addressing the scourge of woman and child abuse as well as lay the basis for changing the behaviour of South Africans to have a positive impact on our families.
Our Vision – The vision of the Vital Foundation is to build Healthy Families and Healthy Homes.
Our Mission – The mission of the Vital Foundation is to support, fund and profile organisation who offer services and take action against woman and child abuse.
George Grieve is no stranger to the world of corporate leadership among market-leading firms in South Africa. Tasked with directing operations for reputable nutritional supplements and vitamin manufacturer Vital Health Foods, George’s underlying belief is to allow a healthy value system to govern his thinking and actions.
A third-generation owner and director who undertook a Harvard family-owned business course in 2006-2008, he became fascinated with the development and methodology of enabling South Africans to become healthier, not shy of starting at the bottom and working his way up. His vast knowledge and understanding of the industry complements his commitment to Vital Health Foods’ mission: To provide fine products that improve our customers’ lives, as we have done since 1947.
As Chairperson of the Vital Foundation he puts the focus on women and child abuse – a massive global issue and one most threatening to individual, family and societal wellness.
Professor Rachel Jewkes is Director of the Medical Research Council Gender & Health Research Unit in Pretoria and Secretary of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative. She is widely recognised as the expert on gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa, and her research both in South Africa and with the World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted the huge extent of the problem.
Recognised as a leading international scholar in the field of gender and health, Rachel Jewkes is a public health physician who has a background in epidemiology and medical anthropology. She has spent the last 20 years researching gender and sexuality in South Africa, contributing to the literature of epidemiology, medical anthropology and health systems research. She is best known for her research on GBV and particularly sexual violence.
Her work has followed a public health approach, with emphasis on describing the scale and nature of the problem of GBV in South Africa through epidemiology, understanding its context and the dimensions and dynamics of gender inequity in relationships using qualitative methods, and developing and evaluating interventions for responses in the health, education and Non-governmental organisations (NGO) sectors. She has spent many years developing the health sector response to rape in South Africa, through research and policy development.
She is a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Secretary General’s Expert Advisory Panel on Injury and Violence Prevention and Control, the WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Committee for HIV-AIDS, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Scientific Advisory Board. She is currently a senior technical advisor to the ‘Gender-based violence and masculinities research project’ of United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Partners for Prevention Programme, in Asia Pacific Region.
Zubeida Shaik is a Vital Foundation committee member and an activist who inspires action. From humble beginnings in Davidsonville, Johannesburg, she has had personal experiences that have led her to a life of fighting for what is right regardless of what people consider to be normal.
“When looking back at my life, and the roles I assumed in so many people’s lives, even from a young age, I believe in many ways, I’ve always been an activist. Always questioning injustice, and very often ostracised for questioning what others considered societal norms. In the community I was raised, domestic violence was one of those societal norms,” explains Shaik.
Having a ‘no nonsense’ woman of valour and virtue as a mom, Shaik observed her mom’s fearless interference when witnessing abuse. It was a turning point that made her realise that someone had to do it. She was unable to ignore imbalances and learned to stand up and fight for justice for those unable to raise their voices on their own.
As a survivor of domestic violence and marital rape herself, Shaik is particularly passionate about creating safe spaces for victims, survivors and their families in which to share their stories in an effort to regain their personal power. “I understand the chains that bind the victim to their abusers. I also know it’s possible to break free. This is what drives me, what makes me refuse to ‘let go’… I have had much success over the years by sharing my personal story. When survivors witness the possibilities it provides the necessary encouragement to reach out for that change.”
In 2013 and 2014, Zubeida had the unique honour of working with 200 global activists on the global One Billion Rising campaign representing South Africa – growing the scope and reach of her advocacy work considerably. Her work primarily focused on finding creative ways of directly engaging different communities and other role players contributing to policy and public opinion on issues related to gender and prejudice-based violence.
“I was able to broaden my focus from working with women and children trapped in domestic violence situations, to forming strategic partnerships with other organisations in civil society, public service and the private sector. These partnerships allowed us to holistically examine gender and prejudice-based violence and work with survivors, victims and perpetrators to try and find an escape from its darkness”, says Shaik.
Shaik is most proud of her contribution to Voices of Women, a national campaign of the South African legislative sector. This campaign created platforms for women’s participation in South Africa’s democracy, and extended to creating safe spaces for much needed healing and social cohesion.
Shaik has always felt strongly that to make a tangible difference, everyone should become involved with justice for gender and prejudice-based violence. This is not a women’s issue, an individual issue, or even a community issue; it is a global crisis that demands a global response. Impact can only be achieved if there is a global response and co-operation at all levels of societal influence. “I believe that if each individual starts by making small changes in their immediate area of influence, this will have a ripple effect that will ultimately result in a paradigm shift that forces a local, national, transnational and global conscientiousness of the severity of the problem,” says Shaik.