PANDEMIC FOOD DRIVE
The ripple effect of the pandemic forced the Mama Bakhita Center for Disabled Children in Livingstone, Zambia to shut its doors. For the 24 children who attend it meant they could no longer get education and therapy, and more fundamentally, they missed the snack and lunch that was provided daily. For some of the children it was main meal of the day.
Hunger is actually a larger threat than the coronavirus.
With businesses closed, mandatory lock-down and food prices that tripled since last September, the majority of people are unable to buy food. When we learned about this situation, we focused on finding a way to help the children and families in the Mama Bakhita community survive until they can work again. These are the children and families I visit every winter when I am in Livingstone to work with the Mama Bakhita Center and the Zambezi Doll Company. Through my Zambian associate and program manager, Sydney Mwamba, we know first hand that their situation is desperate.
Because the pandemic shut down most of our funding sources, last May we put out an emergency appeal for food relief for the Mama Bakhita families. Within a few days we raised $1800. Within a week, our General Manager, Sydney Mwamba, and Sister Clarina Ndona, head of the Mama Bakhita, with Henry Mubati, driver for Mama Bakhita, purchased and distributed a month’s worth of food to the 24 families. The $1800 purchased these items:
2750 lbs. Cornmeal - $260
110 lbs. Beans - $200
110 lbs. Dried fish - $200
84 liters Cooking oil - $490
210 lbs. Sugar - $140
110 lbs. Sweet potatoes - $64
40 Cabbages - $28
24 bags Charcoal - $96
Sanitizer, masks, gloves, soap - $45
That is a lot of food! We were overjoyed at how fast this all transpired. Somehow we managed to raise enough for the next few months, until people were able to partially resume their livelihoods.
Hand-outs are not our first choice when confronted with economic hardship. We prefer to support local organizations, such as the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home for Disabled Children. We have promoted economic opportunities like the Zambezi Doll Company, and M’pekala, Sr. Immaculata Mulyei’s Sisal Project for rural women. We have sought and provided educational sponsors for other children in these same families. Our efforts are personal and limited to a small community in Livingstone.
We know food will continue to be a problem and are now creating a communal farm for these families to grow enough to feed their families and to sell.
Let the fundraising begin!