Royie Nazombe, Dedza local office coordinator, shares, “This feeding program had a great impact. Grandmothers and caregivers could not believe this was happening to them. I remember meeting with the grandmothers after the packages were distributed. Before, all they were eating was a small amount of vegetables for lunch and supper. I heard them say ‘today I will taste nsima for the first time’. People were very happy.”
He continues, “The distribution of relief food at Chinkhu was exactly what the community needed and we left people with wide smiles on their faces. Before we started, we opened with a prayer, one of the caregivers spoke on behalf of others, and the village headman spoke on behalf of other chiefs. In their speeches, they all agreed that Hands at Work is unique. They have seen NGOs come and go, but what Hands is doing in their community is unbelievable.”
Chinkhu Community, deep in the heart of Malawi, has been massively affected by the widespread drought and food crisis that has been sweeping through Africa this year. Volunteer Care Workers from Chinkhu Community Based Organisation (CBO) currently care for 100 of the most vulnerable children in the community, ensuring they receive a hot, nutritious meal daily, access to education and basic health care. However, with the onset of the drought, many families were faced with having no food or source of income, as the lack of rain caused near total crop failure. Care Workers faithfully did what they could in providing nourishment for the most vulnerable children, but the need of nourishment for entire families and grandparents was overwhelming.
The local Hands office in Dedza knew they needed to respond in action, and quickly. As a relief effort outside the provision of the three essential services - food, education, and health care - the local office assembled food relief packages to deliver to the families in Chinkhu. On the designated day, every family came to a specific area close to the feeding point and lined up. Using a list the local office made ahead of time, including every family with names of each person in the household, each family was able to take their parcel home. Some came on foot, some brought a bicycle. Many had a long walk home. Royie describes the scene, “Mothers put 50 kilogram bags of maize on their heads and each child walking beside her carrying either the beans, salt or oil – according to what each could carry – and went away with big smiles on their faces!”
The 100 children cared for by the CBO come from 77 different families, and each of these families received one or two food relief packages, depending on the size of the family. These packages comprised of a 50 kilogram bag of maize, 10 kilograms of beans, 2 litres cooking oil, and 1 kilogram salt. Additionally, all 26 Care Workers from Chinkhu CBO received the same package for themselves and their families. Several additional packages were purchased and given to a few widows in the community who the Care Workers have identified as very vulnerable in this season. The total number of people benefiting from this relief project in Chinkhu was 238! These food packages will last an average family two to three months.
Members from the Dedza local office share, “It was painful for us to see our families suffering. The food packages helped relieve this suffering. The way we felt when we did Holy Home Visits before, and then after the food was delivered, was so different. The way we have been welcomed in the community is now quite different. There is a warm welcome now. People know we are standing in solidarity with them. People know we have helped them in their time of need. They are sure that we are friends and that we are family.”
This year Hands at Work faces an extreme drought crisis in Africa, which has gripped a huge part of the population, specifically those described as ‘the poorest of the poor’ in a way that is unprecedented in human memory. A million children right now face dire consequences because of hunger, sickness, and lack of water. Join us in lifting the burden of the widespread drought and food crisis on Africa’s most vulnerable. More more information, visit our Drought Relief page.