food.gives - Life-saving rice for South-East Asia Christians

“T he timing was absolutely perfect, unbelievable actually.” These words from a Barnabas project partner testify to God’s perfect provision for impoverished Christians in a South-East Asian country, where Christians in rural areas are greatly persecuted.

The country is one of the highest per capita consumers of rice in the world. Yet with food inflation running at more than 50% in early 2023, large numbers of the country’s inhabitants, including many Christians, struggle to feed themselves.

In an exciting new component of Barnabas Aid’s food.gives project, we have provided support to buy a rice milling machine and 260 tonnes of unmilled rice. Our partner purchased rice directly from a network of farmers before it hit the market, thus making a considerable saving. “The last rice was secured days before the open market buyers came in,” our partner explained thankfully.

Our partner has been working through rural churches to supply impoverished Christians with rice. More than 5,000 have already been reached, and the aim is to provide even more believers  – amongst the poorest of the country’s poor – with vital food aid. A rice milling system serves to remove the husk and the bran layers, and produce an edible white rice kernel that is free of impurities.

The mill serves three distinct groups. Free rice is distributed to Christians who cannot afford to pay anything. Discounted rice is sold to pastors and other full-time Christian workers. Rice bran, the outer layer of the rice kernel high in fat content, is also made available to Christian farmers to feed their animals. Unmilled  rice can be stored for more than 12 months and once milled it can retain its quality for around 4-6 weeks in the open air.

“Halia” holding her rice in one of the bamboo baskets she weaves to sell at market

The rice aid has already transformed the lives of many. Our partner describes “Halia”, a Christian widow, as “one of the poorest believers we have ever seen in over 10 years working here”. Halia’s age is estimated to be over 70, but she cannot remember which year she was born. Halia lives in an open windy bamboo hut with limited protection from the elements. Her daily routine includes walking out to the jungle to cut bamboo to weave into baskets, which she tries to sell for 25 pence ($0.31; €0.28) each. She can expect to make three baskets a week, so providing a meagre weekly income of 75 pence ($0.93; €0.84). Through the Barnabas Aid initiative Halia now receives 1kg of rice a day from the local church, so she has enough to eat. 

“Jai”, a young Christian woman, often had to go hungry so that her elderly mother and her child could eat. She works hard selling food at a village stall. The rice aid project has supported Jai and her family by providing 20kg of rice per month.

In this way the rice milling machine is, in the words of our project partner, “providing a crucial lifeline” to the country’s struggling Christians, with the aim of reaching even more believers in the months ahead.

Project reference: PR1555 (food.gives)

Cyclone-affected Malawi Christians receive nourishing ePap

Barnabas Aid responded swiftly to the urgent needs of Christians affected by the cyclone that devastated Malawi in March.

Fifteen tonnes of nourishing ePap porridge was sent to Malawian Christians desperately short of food. That amounts to 350,000 servings of ePap.

ePap is a maize-based porridge fortified with soya protein, vitamins and minerals that brings health to the malnourished. The nutrients contained in ePap have proven success in combatting child hunger and malnutrition.

In partnership with African Enterprise, the ePap was transported by road from South Africa, a journey of more than 1,000 miles. Christian-majority Malawi is often the last to receive aid in time of need owing to its landlocked position.

Cyclone Freddy – which battered Malawi, Madagascar and Mozambique – caused more than six months of rain to fall in just six days in mid-March.

The rainfall resulted in widespread flooding and mudslides that left an estimated 40,000 homes damaged or destroyed. More than 500 people in Malawi are known to have been killed in the disaster, and as many as half a million were displaced. The cyclone’s devastation far surpasses that suffered in January 2015 in southern Malawi, where the worst floods in living memory displaced 336,000 people and caused more than 100 deaths.

Malawian Christians received 15 tonnes of ePap funded by Barnabas

Project reference: 00-634 (Disaster relief fund)

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