For more than 20 years, the primary mission Bread and Water for Africa® has been to find loving homes for orphaned, abandoned and destitute children throughout the continent, starting with the Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya, Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia, and most recently the Lerato Children’s Village in Zimbabwe.

Throughout the years, there has had always been challenges to keep these children housed, fed, healthy, and educated, but with the deadly coronavirus pandemic making inroads into the African continent, times are worse than we, or anyone, has ever seen.

In Zimbabwe, the situation is increasingly dire as our longtime partner Margaret Makambira, founder and director of Shinga Development Trust, who we partnered with to construct the children’s village, struggles to keep the children under her care healthy and safe.

Even before the pandemic, Zimbabwe’s economy was in freefall, as hyperinflation sent food prices soaring with food inflation at more than 700 percent in December, according to an April 12 report in The Independent.

A persistent drought has devastated agricultural production for the past several years in a country that was once known as the breadbasket of Africa. In fact, because of the severe drought induced by climate change, of the last five growing seasons, only one has seen normal rainfall, reports The Independent.

To make matters even worse, “Experts predict that the upcoming 2020 harvest will be even poorer than those preceding it,” states The Independent report.

According to the United Nations World Food Program, there are 4.1 million Zimbabweans experiencing “crisis” or “emergency” food insecurity in a country of 16.5 million.

“With hunger peaking, the looming COVID-19 pandemic threatens to exacerbate Zimbabwe’s dire economic and hunger crises,” states The Independent.

And a recent World Food Program analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on food security estimates that the forthcoming agricultural season — so crucial for millions of Zimbabweans — may again be compromised, either by reduced agricultural labor because of the country’s lockdown or because of lack of access to agricultural inputs due to supply-chain disruptions.

Despite the distressing situation Margaret and children in her care are facing on a daily basis, they have something that millions of Zimbabwean children and families don’t — the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who for decades have given generously to provide them with the assistance they have needed not only to survive but to thrive.

Eddie Rowe, WFP’s country director and representative for Zimbabwe, is adamant that its operations must and will continue uninterrupted by the coronavirus.

At Bread and Water for Africa®, we share that commitment to Margaret and “her” children, never to give up providing them food and basic necessities in their greatest time of need in their entire lives.