Hungry Season in Mozambique

Hungry season.  In Mozambique, food is scarce between October and April every year.  This year’s hungry season, October 2008 to April 2009, was particularly devastating.  Dry weather caused brush fires in September 2008, fires which burned numerous homes and crops, killing some and leaving many homeless and hungry. 

Late rain further exacerbated the problem.  People bought seed to grow maize in their mashambas (gardens) and planted them expecting rain to come at the normal time, usually in October or November, but it didn't.  The seeds died, and the people bought more seed.  Again, they planted them expecting rain to come, but it didn't.  Rain didn't come until mid-December.  The several wasted attempts to plant and the late rain caused many to be unable to grow crops at all.  Those who were able to plant had unsuccessful crops because the late rain did not provide enough time for the maize to flourish.  All of this resulted in the most extreme hungry season Mozambique has seen for decades. During this time, people literally had nothing to eat.  Many reports of deaths in Nhamatanda, a community that Hands at Work is beginning to reach into, read simply, "Died of hunger." 

Witnessing the severity of the situation, Dara Hillstrom, an American volunteer serving in Mozambique, wrote a letter to family, friends and churches in the States, including Wellspring Church in San Francisco, California.  In response to that letter, Wellspring decided to raise money for the crisis.  The response was incredible.   Thousands of dollars were raised in just one month; people contributed to funds for the hungry season, and many also committed to monthly donations.  At the end, in only a couple of months, close to $30,000 was raised to aid in hungry season.  The money was used to provide food parcels for everyone in Rubatano’s program—orphaned and vulnerable children, patients and volunteers—totaling about 700 households in the three communities of Gondola, Amatongas and Nhamatanda.  Each household received one monthly package of maize meal, beans, and oil for two months, March and April.  

Although food parcels were only distributed in the last months of the crisis, the response was a huge success and a great support for those who were blessed by the provision.  

Another American volunteer in Mozambique, Hannah Chung, expressed it well, saying, “It shows that we are truly together.  When one part of the family is hurting, another part responds and helps, whether or not that family member is thousands of miles away.  But more than anything, it shows God's provision and His love for His people.  At a time and place where we thought we were in the desert and felt that God was far away, God was closer to us than ever.  He provided for us abundantly, and He showed us that He is God of Mozambique.”