Most of the households are subsistence farms which rely on the rains to sustain their crops, livestock, livelihood, and daily meals. The rains usually come in October and December, and then again in March and April. The last two rainy seasons brought very little rainfall and the crops did not grow. The drought and crop failure has caused extreme food insecurity and famine conditions for the families. The hunger crisis has been exacerbated by COVID-19 because the cost of essential goods has skyrocketed, coupled with high rates of unemployment. Their livestock is also suffering and sometimes dying, which is destroying the families' central source of livelihood.
Our Mercy Care site staff have been visiting the homes and schools of the sponsored children in 22 affected communities. Their reports are full of sorrow as families face constant hunger, and mothers are in great distress. Most critically, the situation is impacting the children's health, and the site has seen a rise in malnutrition, illnesses, and compromised immune systems. At school, the children are struggling to participate well in their lessons or are dropping out entirely.
"Our sponsored families and the most vulnerable within the communities are in dire need of food during this hard time of COVID-19 pandemic and famine," writes Sr. Mary Tomsy, the site director. The site has formed an action plan to create and distribute packages of essential groceries to the 593 families of sponsored children, as well as 50 other highly vulnerable families.
Each package will contain corn, beans, and cooking oil in quantities to last the 3-4 months until the next rains are due. This means purchasing 565 bags (90 kg each) of corn, 252 bags of beans (90 kg each) and 3215 litres of cooking oil, with a total cost of $48,314.59 CAD.
Your support will bring tremendous relief to suffering and frightened families, and enable the children to keep focused on their studies and working towards their bright futures.
NOTE: Our Giving Tuesday campaign raised over $50,000 to help families at our Mercy Care site, and we are truly grateful. If you missed Giving Tuesday, or want to keep helping, there are still families in need. When families have enough to eat, children do better in school, parents have peace of mind, and kids get to be kids.