|Church sends maize for Zimbabwe families|
In response to the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, the United Methodist Committee on Relief is distributing 408 metric tons of maize meal to more than 30,000 families.
A UMNS photo by Azim Akhtar, UMCOR.
A UMNS Report
By Melissa Hinnen*
May 5, 2009
Ellen, a widow who is raising seven children in the Harare District, is one of many Zimbabweans reporting that they are now eating fewer meals.
She sells stones, but people are not buying because of the country’s economic crisis and she struggles to survive. “There is no food in the country and if you are to find it in the shops it is very expensive. We cannot afford to buy it.”
In response to the humanitarian crisis, the United Methodist Committee on Relief is providing medical treatment, implementing clean water programs to help prevent cholera, distributing food to the most vulnerable and offering educational incentives to reopen schools.
In March, the agency distributed 408 metric tons of maize meal in 12 districts. Working with the denomination’s Zimbabwe Annual Conference and district superintendents, the relief agency identified more than 30,000 vulnerable families to receive a bag of the milled grain.
"UMCOR is committed to supporting our sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe,” said the Rev. Sam Dixon, the agency’s top executive. “We will continue to work with Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa to offer security and comfort in whatever ways we can.”
Voices of hope in Zimbabwe
A severe food shortage, the cholera epidemic, a compromised medical system and the world’s highest inflation rate have helped create the crisis.
The grain came as a great relief to people like Mrs. Vhomo, who is HIV positive and a widow raising six children in the Murehwa District. She sells vegetables in the market but doesn’t earn enough to support her family.
“I am so grateful for The United Methodist Church, which is doing great wonders in the country,” she said. “We hope that all these other churches can also do the same thing which UMC is doing for the vulnerable communities. To all the donors, we say thank you so much and God bless you so much.”
Christine, a widowed grandmother in the Mutoko Mudzi District, also expressed gratitude. She is raising six grandchildren whose parents are dead. When she received the bag of grain for her family, she began singing and dancing and everyone around her joined in the celebration. “We were surviving on vegetables and green maize cobs . . . thank you so much,” she said.
Azim Akhtar, who managed the project, reported, “People in this district were singing and dancing, chanting slogans of happiness for the maize meal distribution in their district. They could not help it, but sang in their local language the UMC hymns and other gospel songs.”
Eunice, a United Methodist in Irvines, said she was proud of how the United Methodist agency is helping her community and grateful for the bag of grain her family received. “We had gone for four days eating green maize cobs with my family,” she explained. “We had bad yields this year due to rains and lack of fertilizer.. . . Thank you so much to all to donors and God bless you. You have come at the right time when we the people of Zimbabwe are suffering. Keep on doing the good works of the Lord. We pray and hope that you will continue to support us.”
The Zimbabwe emergency effort involves large shipments of food, medicines, school kits, fuel for hospital generators, rehabilitation of water systems, and support for hospital employees.
The United Methodist Church has three hospitals in Zimbabwe, all of which remain open although most hospitals in the country are closed. Additionally, the agency provides support for the staff of Africa University and their families and for United Methodist pastors and their families.
Donors can make contributions to Zimbabwe Emergency, UMCOR Advance No. 199456 through local United Methodist churches or mail checks to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Write the Advance name and number on the check memo line. For credit card donations, visit the relief agency’s Web site at www.umcor.org for online giving information or call (800) 554-8583.
*Hinnen is a writer for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zimbabwe teachers call off strike
Zimbabwe’s suffering is man-made, lawyer says
Report shows collapse of Zimbabwe health system
Crisis situation threatens survival of Zimbabweans
UMCOR launches new response to Zimbabwe crisis