“Jacqueline” gathers cactus leaves in her worn-out basket. The crops may have failed yet again, but at least the cacti – which local people call raketa – are still alive. Jacqueline lays out the contents of her basket on a ragged cloth for people to buy. Raketa leaves have little nutritional value and give you stomach ache. But people are now so hungry in parts of Madagascar that they will eat them. There is nothing else to fill their stomachs with.
Four years of repeated droughts, followed by five destructive tropical storms since mid-January, have devastated Madagascar, especially the south. The people of Madagascar used to call their country “the green island”. It is now gradually turning into a red island, as vegetation disappears leaving bare red sand that blows mercilessly into people’s eyes.
“If there’s no rain, I don’t know what we’ll do. We’ll pray to God,” says Felix (20). Recently married, he has prepared some land for cultivation, but will his hard work be any use?
Tuberculosis (TB) is ravaging the population, even though it is easily treatable by modern medicine. Malnutrition weakens the immune system and therefore infectious diseases like TB spread fast. But TB reduces the absorption of nutrients by the body, so the weakened body becomes more susceptible to disease – creating a “vicious cycle”.
Breaking the vicious cycle
Barnabas Fund has stepped in, with God’s help, to break this vicious cycle. We have begun a two-year rolling programme to provide 234 tonnes of nourishing ePap porridge for more than 79,000 Christians across the 22 regions of Madagascar. This will increase their strength and health, enabling them to fight disease.
ePap, made from maize and soya beans with added vitamins and minerals, quickly brings health to malnourished children and adults. Visible improvement can be seen after a few weeks of daily ePap, and the full effect is achieved after two months.
The first 18 tonnes of ePap arrived on 14 February. That is enough to restore 6,000 adults or children aged 7+ through daily ePap for two months. Under-sevens need only half as much ePap daily, so it would nourish 12,000 little ones.
The next shipment, 36 tonnes, is currently at sea, having left South Africa on 24 March.
“You give them something to eat.”
Jesus told His followers, “You give them something to eat.” (Luke 9:13). Through Barnabas Fund you can do just that.
£1.25 ($1.70; €1.40) buys a 500g bag of ePap, which will provided 10 days of nourishment for children aged seven and over, or 20 days for younger children.
£7.50 ($10.20; €8.40) buys six bags of ePap, enough to restore one older child or two younger children to health
£17 ($23; €20) would provide enough ePap to nourish a family of five for a month
£1,200 ($1,640; €1,420) would cover the costs for one day of Barnabas Fund’s major ePap programme in Madagascar