When Emmanuel Jal was a child soldier, he didn’t understand the gravity of what he was going through, but food was scarce.
By: Gilbert Ngabo Metro., Metro Published on Tue Aug 18 2015
A former child soldier is turning his focus to the food industry.
Known for his hip-hop songs and peace activism, Toronto’s Emmanuel Jal is set to unleash Jal Gua on the local food market next month.
Jal Gua is powder mixture made form sorghum and moringa, two natural, organic ingredients he imports from his home country of South Sudan.
“Most fast foods have no minerals in them,” Jal says as he mixed two spoonfuls of the powder with milk, two bananas and strawberries to make a smoothie. “This product not only gives you enough energy from its ingredients, it also prevents you from craving food.”
If Jal talks passionately about healthy eating, it’s because he knows a thing or two about it.
Born and raised in a war-torn country, Jal was only 7 years old when he was forced to become a solider. He didn’t understand the gravity of what he was going through, but food was scarce. One of his most dreadful memories is when he was tempted to eat one of his colleagues for survival.
“It was really awful, terribly awful. I think I am really lucky to be alive,” Jal said, remembering the long journey when he and more than 200 other child soldiers attempted to escape and rejoin their families.
Only 16 of them survived.
A British aid worked smuggled him to Kenya and that’s where Jal went to school.
Through his music themed on peace and forgiveness, his journey eventually brought him to Canada two years ago.
Jal Gua was created out of necessity.
A few years ago, Jal developed signs of diabetes and high blood pressure.
A student of the DIY movement, Jal started making experiments with various ingredients he knew from his early years.
Health experts at Niagara College tested the product’s nutritional values and, with their advice, he started working on properly producing and packaging it.
“I just wanted to go back to eating my traditional food,” he said about Jal Gua. “I couldn’t remember anyone in my childhood collapsing from high blood pressure. When people are walking and get tired, they immediately think they need coffee or sugar but actually what they need is minerals.”