Maize Distribution Brings Relief to Zimbabwe
May 4, 2009— Because of a difficult agricultural season combined with hyperinflation, most households in Zimbabwe report they are now eating fewer meals. Ellen is a widow who is raising seven children in the Harare District. She sells stones but people are not buying because of the 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.”
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is responding to the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe with a targeted plan that includes providing medical treatment, implementing clean water programs to help prevent cholera, food distribution to the most vulnerable, and educational incentives to reopen schools.
"UMCOR is committed to supporting our sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe,” said the Rev. Sam Dixon, UMCOR's top executive. “We will continue to work with Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa to offer security and comfort in whatever ways we can.”
Working with the Zimbabwe Annual Conference and district superintendents, UMCOR identified more than 30,000 vulnerable families to receive a bag of milled grain. In March, UMCOR distributed 408 metric tons of maize meal in twelve districts.
Voices of Hope in Zimbabwe
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. When she heard that UMCOR would be distributing maize in her district, she felt a burden had been lifted. She said, “I am so grateful for The United Methodist Church which is doing great wonders in the country. 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. She said, “We were surviving on vegetables and green maize cobs . . . thank you so much.”
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 is a United Methodist in Irvines. She is proud of how UMCOR 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. 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.”
About UMCOR in Zimbabwe
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, UMCOR provides support for the staff of Africa University and their families and for UMC pastors and their families. UMCOR recognizes the need to care for the caregivers and ensure that valuable UMC institutions maintain their important work throughout the country. Zimbabwe has an inflation rate of more than two million percent.