8 January 2021

A little Zimbabwean girl called Mercy, hungry and malnourished, was suffering badly from pellagra.

Many children in Zimbabwe now have pellagra, a disease caused by a deficiency of Vitamin B3 due to malnutrition. The symptoms are summarised as diarrhoea, dermatitis and dementia – eventually leading to death.

A little girl called Mercy, suffering badly from pellagra

But Mercy’s life was saved by a simple porridge called ePap.

Made from maize and soya beans, with added vitamins and minerals, it brings health to children and adults in a matter of weeks. Soon they put on weight, have more energy – and the children start to smile again.

The darkest hour is before dawn, the hungriest time is before harvest

Praise God - rain came to Zimbabwe in November, after three years of drought! It was an answer to the prayers of many Zimbabwean believers. Lord willing, there will be a harvest in April/May.

But how to last from now until then? 

As the saying goes, the darkest hour is just before dawn.

It is the same in times of food scarcity: the hungriest time is just before harvest.

Strong faith, weakened bodies

The statistics of suffering tell the tragic story of the last year.

In 2020 only 19% of women of childbearing age had a diet that met minimum nutritional requirements, and only 2% of children had the necessary diet for growth and development. Small wonder that mothers cannot produce milk, children are stunted, and mothers and children are dying.

Even as the longed-for rains began to fall in November, Covid-19 cases began to increase. This brings the threat of a renewed lockdown that would stop people going to their jobs or tending their fields.

Still four months until harvest

Our Lord Jesus once quoted a saying: “It’s still four months until harvest.” (John 4:35)

This is the literal truth in Zimbabwe.

How can a population so worn down by hunger in 2020 survive even four months of 2021 until the harvest comes? Their faith is strong but their bodies are weak.

Mercy, after two months of ePap

A New Year gift of food and health

Buying in bulk from South Africa, we can keep the price of our ePap aid very low. Thanks to the generous donations of Barnabas Fund supporters, we met our first target of eight tonnes of ePap. But the need is enormous. The World Food Programme predicted that 60% of the population of Zimbabwe would be food insecure by the end of 2020.

Just £19 ($24; €21) will provide enough ePap to nourish a child for four months.

God has sent the rain to make the crops grow. Will you give a gift to help a Zimbabwean child survive until harvest?

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