A trickle became a flood of hungry people
It started as a trickle…with 6 elderly women from the community arriving one morning for devotions in late February. “Our food has run out and we are hungry, don’t you have work for us and you can pay us with maize.”
Each year, with the help of our faithful donors, we buy in 5 tons of extra food (maize) to be prepared for these kinds of emergencies. In the last few years, this reserve has carried us through. But this year, what started as a trickle in February turned into a stream in March and by early April it has become a full blown flood of around 180 women, men, and children coming to find some work, any work, so they can just earn the food they need for the next day.
Although we were ill prepared for the challenge, God graciously sent us a few visitors who were here to watch the unfolding crisis. They responded almost immediately with donations that carried us through a few weeks, and now other donors in South Africa, Switzerland and Canada have responded so we are doing what we can to find food, find work, and carefully assist in a way that will not develop dependency (a very hard thing to do). We are so grateful for those who have helped and those who have helped to promote this need to their family and friends. And the crisis is certainly not over, so we request your prayer and consideration in the days and weeks ahead. Besides this emergency, we are a month away from having to buy in food to last for the year ahead.
This week we called a meeting with all of the local leaders from the communities around to discuss the hunger challenge. Their assessment of the situation is that this is the worst year they have seen in a long time.
One of the leaders, Senhor Bernardo, said this is the worst he has ever seen. This present situation is the result of poor crops last year exacerbated by the even poorer crops so far this year. Someone described this year as “Two droughts and a flood,” and that is indeed what we have experienced. The planting season saw just enough rain to get people planting, then came the first drought that lasted until January 2013. On the first day of January, it started raining so hard our recently built bridge was washed out. The ongoing heavy rains leeched out any nutrients in the soil leaving poor crops and very little chance for planting a second time round. As quickly as the rain came, it stopped again with a prolonged dry spell (our second drought). The result was that anything planted either died or was badly stunted. And now, late in the year, we have had a little more normal rain but by now it is too late.
As you read this account, please know I understand you may have heard it before. This is not strange to sub-Saharan African countries, but the personal impact on lives is devastating. Add to this a cut back in medicines provided to our health posts and you can only imagine what it means for people living in many parts of rural Mozambique. A number of our interventions are helping out and this year we will be distributing 20 foot pumps to help produce food in areas that can access ground or river water, but naturally this kind of help takes some time to produce results.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,” are words that echo in my mind and heart. There are many reasons for hunger and as much as it is our responsibility to work toward addressing the cause issues, in the meantime we are called to compassionately respond to human need.
For more information, or if you wish to partner with us by donating to this program, please visit our Emergency Feeding page and follow the donate links on the right.