“You cannot tell a hungry child that you gave them food yesterday” goes a Zimbabwean proverb, but what if no food was available yesterday, or the day before, or the day before?
“Tawanda”, a six-year-old girl, knows exactly the effect of this. She was constantly getting sick and rapidly losing weight. She, her mother and three siblings were going through hard times. Her mother was daily looking for berries and seeds to feed her children, often going without food for five days herself. Tawanda and her siblings were malnourished.
When children are malnourished, their ability to fight off infection is greatly diminished, and common illnesses can become life-threatening. Malnutrition explains the rise of more serious diseases such as pellagra and measles in Zimbabwean children too. Children between the ages of six months and 15 years are mainly affected.
Child hunger and malnutrition are on the rise in Zimbabwe because of failed harvests and rising food insecurity, particularly in the rural areas as can be found in Matabeleland.
You can help minimise the impact of this on children like Tawanda and her siblings.
540,000 meals – a gift of food and health
Barnabas Aid is buying 22 tonnes of ePap in bulk in South Africa for 8,323 schoolchildren. This will provide the children with a daily serving of ePap, five days a week, given to them through 31 schools. This equates to more than 540,000 ePap meals.
ePap is a special maize-based porridge. Fortified with vitamins, minerals and protein, a small daily amount quickly brings health to malnourished children.
According to UNICEF, 3.5 million children in Zimbabwe are chronically hungry with more than two million malnourished. Many are living in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe, where the 31 schools are located. Children make up half of the nearly 15 million population of Zimbabwe.
You can help
A child aged six or under needs a daily 25g (dry weight) serving of ePap, costing 6p ($0.09; €0.07). Children aged seven or over need double that ration.
£1.25 ($1.70; €1.40) could buy a 500g bag of ePap which will provide 20 days of nourishment for children aged six and under, or 10 days for older children.
£3.60 ($5.05; €4.15) could provide enough ePap for a child aged six and under for three months.
£7.20 ($10.10; €8.30) could provide enough ePap for one older child for three months.
£14.40 ($20.20; €16.60) could provide enough ePap for two older children for three months. Or for four younger children.
£28.80 ($40.40; €33.20) could provide enough ePap for four older children for three months. Or for eight younger children.