Melissa Warren, a long-term Hands at Work volunteer, originally from Sydney, Australia, shares stories of families she has met who are suffering from the effects of the drought crisis Southern Africa is in the midst of. The reality of this drought is that many families are left with little to no food for these months, and this time of year is often the toughest. Please continue to pray with us for rain during these summer months. After this past harvest season, many families are feeling hopeless; pray for the crops they have planted to grow, so they will not have to face another food shortage next year.
“I planted 12 meda* of soya beans, I expected to harvest 18-20 x 50 kg bags. I only harvested 2 bags.”
“I planted 20 kg of maize seed, I expected to harvest 60 x 50 kg bags. There is no harvest; the rains just did not come after I planted.”
“I planted 15 kg of maize seed. From planting the same amount of seed last year, I harvested 32 x 50 kg bags. This year I only harvested 12 bags.”
“I planted 15 kg of maize seed. From planting the same amount of seed last year, I harvested 32 x 50 kg bags. This year I only harvested not even 6 bags.”
“I planted 10 kg of maize seed, and I only harvested 2 x 50 kg bags, which my family has already eaten.”
“I planted 2 meda* of ground nuts, and I expected to harvest 10 x 50 kg bags. I only harvested 1 bag.”
“I planted 20 kg of maize seed, but I am fearing to go and harvest it. There is nothing. The stems shot up out of the ground, but there is no maize on them.”
“I planted 10 kg of maize seed, but there is nothing to harvest. I have given up.”
I could keep going as we went around the circle with our Care Workers in Susu Community, Zambia, and heard one story after another.
I have not been very vocal about the drought crisis to date, but it is a very tough reality facing many families we serve across Zambia, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Even as I write this, I can close my eyes and see vividly a mother I met in Malawi in February, in a new community we are not yet working in, who sat and told us of how she had no food to feed her children, while her two small children (maybe 2 years of age) tried to suck milk from their mother, when clearly there was none. My heart breaks as I struggle to even write this, but the reality is that these children are unlikely to make it.
As Hands at Work, we very rarely run specific campaigns. We are focused on providing ongoing services to the most vulnerable children through long-term partnerships, mobilising local and international churches. But this drought crisis is something we cannot turn our back on. It demands a response. And we are busy working every day to try to stay ahead of how we need to be responding to the challenges in each of the communities we work in across Africa.
For more specific information, videos, and stories of the challenges we are facing and how we are responding, please visit our Drought Relief page.
If you can give, I would encourage you to do so. If you pray, I would encourage you to do so. Stand with us at this time. This drought is personal to me; it has names and faces of many who do not have a voice. Families I see when I close my eyes at night. I must speak up on their behalf and we must do what we can.
*A 'meda' is a unit of measurement used in Zambia, referring to a small bucket Zambians use to measure out seeds, beans, and other dried food.