With the COVID -19 pandemic causing significant negative impacts in Zimbabwe, including and especially hunger in the impoverished country, this fall Margaret Makambira, founder and director of our longtime partner there, the Shinga Development Trust and its Lerato Children’s Village, turned to Bread and Water for Africa® for emergency relief to feed children and families in the community Shinga serves.
Margaret cited a 2019 report the United States Agency for International Development report which indicated “Zimbabwe’s economy and food security situation remains fragile, this can be attributed to poor health conditions, erratic rainfall and long dry spells” – and this was before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
And according to recent data released by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC), 5.5 million people, which represents 38 percent of the country’s rural population, is currently facing severe food insecurity.
Among the worst places in the country facing food, insecurity is in Dora Ward 5 and 35 in the Mutare District served by Shinga where there is a high rate of unemployment leading to vulnerability for children and families, Margaret reported.
“Recently, there are high numbers of school dropouts since children are doing piece-work in order to support their families in acquiring food,” she told us this fall in her request for the emergency food assistance. “Hence, there is a need to assist these children and families with food hampers which will aid in their nutritional development and promote physical, social, emotional, and psychological growth.”
And since COVID-19, the pandemic “has played a major role in the downfall of the economy which was caused the movement restrictions placed on citizens which mainly affected those who are doing buying and selling,” she told us. “It also contributed greatly in the sense that gatherings were prohibited and members of the community were not receiving mutual help.”
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, for several years we have been able to operate a school fee assistance program for children in the two districts.
In January, Margaret reported on the success of the program in which 100 students who had been benefiting through the school fee assistance program, were instead deemed eligible to receive what she terms as “food hampers,” after receiving authorization from government officials and agencies, and in compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
The hardest part for Margaret was selecting which, 100 children, out of the 150 in the school fees assistance program, who needed help the most.
“We had to screen all 150 beneficiaries in order to come up with the 100 worst-affected children,” she told us. “This, however, was a very difficult exercise considering Dora is a ‘hunger-hit’ area, and all 150 beneficiaries were eligible.”
Once that was completed, Margaret selected the 100 students who attended schools including Dora High, Mutukwa Primary, Kuhudzai Primary, Mhandimbirii Primary, Gwese Secondary, and others.
Included in each food hamper was 2 liters of cooking oil, 10 kilos (about 22 pounds) of “mealie meal” (cornmeal which is a basic food staple in the country), sugar, dried matemba (a small fish like sardines), beans, salt, soya chunks, and tea leaves.
The Center for Strategic & International Studies noted last summer that while the health impact, testing, containment, and trying to curb the pandemic has rightly been at the forefront in nearly every country in the developed world, “but low-income countries experience a different reality: in sub-Saharan Africa, over 70 percent of workers are self-employed, and a vast majority operate in the informal sector.
“Many bottom-of-the-pyramid Africans eat with the money they earn every day.”
But thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who made this emergency relief available for 100 hungry children and their families in this time of crisis, Margaret says:
“We are very grateful on behalf of the feeding program beneficiaries for the food assistance program.”
While 2020 was a challenging year for all of us in the United States, so was the case in the sub-Saharan African countries where we work.
While we are thankful that the COVID-19 pandemic has not caused a severe outbreak resulting in tens of thousands of deaths as originally feared, the impact by coronavirus on the economies of countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe has been significant with rampant inflation for basic food staples making it difficult for our partners who provide loving homes for orphaned and abandoned children to keep those in their care adequately fed as prices rise on a practically daily basis.
But thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, we have been able to provide emergency grant funding to our partners including the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia and the Lerato Children’s Village in Zimbabwe to ensure none of the children living there are going hungry.
Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, schools were forced to close by the pandemic, but unlike here in the U.S., few – if any – impoverished African families have computers and access to high-speed broadband internet so the educations of tens of thousands of African children whose greatest wish is to attend school has come to a standstill.
In Sierra Leone, we are helping to ease hunger by educating female farmers on how to make the best use of their small tracts of land, providing farming equipment to our partners including Faith Healing Development Organization and Rural Youth Development Organization – Sierra Leone to enable them to significantly increase their crop production.
And while we have learned in 2020 nothing is certain regarding the end of the coronavirus, we are hopeful with the vaccines becoming available that we will be able to continue the good work our supporters have been enabling us to do for more than 20 years.
In 2021, as the government in Uganda has recently lifted COVID-19 restrictions enabling us to resume working with our partner there, Bega Kwa Bega (Shoulder to Shoulder in Kiswahili), to protect spring water sites from human and animal contamination, we are planning on expanding the program to 15 sites in the coming year, providing safe, clean water for an estimated 3,750 Ugandans in remote villages.
While undoubtedly, healthcare will remain a pressing concern as it always has, and which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, Bread and Water for Africa® remains committed to shipping hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medicines and medical supplies and equipment to our partners in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone who operate hospitals and clinics at low, or no, the cost to impoverished African children, mothers, and elders.
“In providing COVID-19 impact support, Bread and Water for Africa® is remaining anchored to our mission of “providing a brighter future for Africa’s children,” notes Bread and Water for Africa® Executive Director Beth Tessema. “That is, rather than providing unsustainable, temporary relief-focused support, we are providing support in the form of health care, clean water development, food self-sustainability and education programs.”
While 2020 has been a challenging year for us all, the global COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the ability of our partners and the people living in the sub-Saharan African countries they serve – including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere – in a myriad of ways.
But thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, and through the sheer will and determination of our partner program leaders, together we have been able to continue providing health care to thousands, helping to ensure that children are still getting an education as schools are reopening, assisting small holder farmers in getting the most out of their small tracts of land, providing clean water to hundreds in rural villages, supporting loving homes for orphaned and destitute children, as well as basic relief services. The following are some of the highlights you enabled us to impact so many lives in 2020.
As for today, no one can know what the future holds for 2021, but at Bread and Water for Africa® one thing is certain, the steadfast compassion and generosity of our supporters and the determination of our partners who will never relent in their on-going mission to enhance the health and welfare of those many less fortunate in their communities.
We are honored, and humbled, to wish our visionary founder, Gene Krizek, a hearty 93rd Happy Birthday.
A former Congressional Administrative Assistant, a retired Foreign Service Officer and a retired Colonel in the United States Air Force, Eugene “Gene” Krizek served as the Director of White House Liaison with the State Department in 1961-1962 and as State Department Congressional Relations Director from 1962 to 1981.
Following his retirement from government service, Gene founded Bread and Water for Africa® in 1986 as a direct response to the extreme poverty in sub-Saharan African countries where children die needlessly from easily preventable and treatable illnesses, want nothing more than an education that is out of reach as their parents cannot afford the school fees to send them to school, and, for those orphaned and abandoned children, a loving home where all their basic needs are met.
Among those thousands who have had their lives transformed due to Gene’s vision is Moses who ended up at the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia after being abandoned by the side of the road as a newborn. Today, Moses is a 12-year-old sixth-grader looking forward to a bright future!
Moses is just one of the thousands of children that, because of Gene’s vision, have been given a home, an education, and a healthy life.
While Gene may have retired from his position as President in December 2014, he remains an inspiration to us all at Bread and Water for Africa®, and as he stated in his retirement letter:
“I have indeed been blessed to have lived a life of meaning – of achieving many of my personal goals, including helping to make a difference in the lives of so many others in need in so many ways during my exciting tenure with this fine, charitable organization.”
Happy 93rd Birthday, Gene Krizek
Children and youth in Zimbabwe understand all too well that being able to go to school and getting an education is their pathway out of a life of dire poverty, menial labor, and a successful future.
And thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® such as yourself, we are able to pay the school fees and purchase required school uniforms and school supplies.
Among them is Chenaimoyo, a bright young boy who wants to let those who are enabling him to pursue his education and dreams of one day becoming a pilot, who expressed “how happy and grateful I am” now that his worries of being able to continue his education are over.
Through our education school fees sponsorship program, administered by our partner in Zimbabwe, the Shinga Development Trust, Chenaimoyo’s parents are relieved of the burden of trying to pay their son’s school fees with funds they do not have.
“For the past two years, I was struggling to be able to come to school because my parents could not afford to pay my school fees,” he told us. “But now I am very grateful to you because since you have started paying my school fees I have been attending school every single day!”
Chenaimoyo is in Form 3 (5th grade) and is hard at work studying and preparing for his O-Level exams which will enable him to continue his education into secondary school.
“I want to thank you because through your support I will be able to reach my goal of becoming a pilot,” he wanted all those who are helping him make his dream possible to know.
And it is because of the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® that the dreams of hundreds of schoolchildren in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa are being realized right now today.
For more than two decades, we at Bread and Water for Africa® have remained committed to providing clean, safe drinking water for tens of thousands of children, parents and elders in sub-Saharan Africa.
Over the years, we have dug wells in countries including Cameroon, Zambia, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone and protected safe water spring sites from human and animal contamination in Uganda.
Waterborne illnesses such as cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery, to name just a few, as well as bacterial and parasitic infections are among the most common causes of serious illness, and even death, and tragically all of this sickness and fatalities can be easily preventable.
In addition to the significant health concerns, children — practically all young girls who should be in school — are instead spending their childhood and youth walking back and forth long distances to fetch water for their families from often contaminated sources.
At Bread and Water for Africa® we work with local leaders of rural villages where clean water is a precious commodity to dig wells, frequently on the grounds of schools and clinics which serve not only the students and patients and healthcare staff, but also the greater community as whole.
Water scarcity affects one in three people in sub-Saharan Africa through either unclean water, or through terrible droughts which cause deaths some dehydration.
And today, with the COVID-19 pandemic making inroads into the countries where we work, clean water — always a necessity of life — is more critical than ever.
For the thousands who benefit from these safe water sources their lives have been transformed and no longer do they live in fear of illness or death each time they take a drink.