East Africa churches give food to hungry

As a hunger crisis continues in east Africa, the Church of the Nazarene is providing food for those in need.

With the combined support of congregations in affected areas and others around the world, local churches in east Africa are working to provide food aid to more than 5,750 vulnerable individuals. These include both Nazarene church members and other community members who are facing extreme hunger. The relief efforts have prioritized households caring for orphaned children; people who have been displaced; households headed by single mothers, orphaned children, or senior adults; and others who are most vulnerable to the effects of hunger.

During a recent aid distribution in a community in eastern Kenya, 25 church volunteers distributed more than 140,000 pounds of staple food items to 400 households. They also provided education about a cholera outbreak in the region.

Sam Oketch, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries coordinator for the Africa East Field, reported the years-long drought has destroyed not only lives but also livelihoods, including farms and animals.

Anne Kavetsa, 87, is a recipient of the church’s relief efforts. Kavetsa lost six cows and all the crops on her small farm to the drought. She is among thousands of farmers in eastern Kenya affected by the drought.

“I am very thankful and hope to share with my neighbors,” she said when the church gave her food staples.

Oketch said the drought and accompanying hunger crisis has also split families apart. Men often go in search of water for their families’ livestock, sometimes traveling for several months at a time, or they go to larger towns to look for work. The wives, known as “drought widows,” are left behind to care for children on their own.

Zuurah Ndambuki is a mother of five children ranging from 7 to 20 years old. She is trying to provide for her younger children by selling firewood. She walks 20 kilometers round-trip to gather wood, which can be a dangerous journey. Ndambuki sells bundles of wood for a few shillings each. She uses the money to buy maize flour to make ugali. The food is filling, but a diet based on only maize does not provide sufficient nutrients to fight the effects of malnutrition, especially for young children.  

The water crisis created by the drought also affects Ndambuki’s family and others in east Africa. Borehole wells have dried up, and impoverished families cannot afford the cost of water charged by private vendors.

Experts predict this drought will continue to worsen, as currently below-average rains are not replenishing water sources and farmlands. Households in affected areas may not see significant harvests until next year.

Church leaders in east Africa say the food assistance congregations are providing is critical. Without it, they say, many people would be in danger of starvation.

How to help

Pray

Please pray for the people affected by this hunger emergency, especially children. Pray for rain to help relieve the drought. Pray for the local churches in the affected areas as they offer a tangible expression of Jesus’ love to their neighbors.

Give

You can support the emergency relief efforts of local churches in East Africa by giving to the Africa Disaster Relief — Famine Response.

To send donations by mail:

In the U.S., make checks payable to "General Treasurer" and send them to:

Global Treasury Services

Church of the Nazarene

P.O. Box 843116

Kansas City, MO 64184-3116

Be sure to write 127362 in the Memo area.

In Canada, make checks payable to "Church of the Nazarene Canada" and send them to:

Church of the Nazarene Canada

20 Regan Road, Unit 9

Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3

Be sure to write 127362 in the Memo area.

For any other country, give through your local church or district, designating your gift to the Africa Disaster Relief — Famine Response.

--Nazarene Compassionate Ministries

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