Zimbabwe doesn’t begin with the last letter of the alphabet for nothing. We feature last on the list of countries of the world and if we carry on as we are, we’ll probably drop off it altogether.
But, please, that’s no reason to forget us.
It is not the fault of the people of this country that we are in this mess, it is entirely due to the total neglect by the government for the past thirty-six years. Thanks to a ruinous agricultural policy, we haven’t been able to feed ourselves for decades but we have muddled through by importing from our neighbours. But this year is different and this winter will be far, far worse. The last “rainy” season barely happened, with minor falls in February and March - too little and too late for the maize crop (the staple diet in this part of Africa) that should be planted in November/December.
The drought has affected the whole of southern Africa so there will be almost no imports this year – and what does come in will, as usual, be handed out to the party faithful in Mashonaland. People here, in Matabeleland (the most arid area of the country at the best of times), have no maize stored away and it won’t be long before they are facing starvation – with no help in sight from their government.
Thanks to the very generous donations we have received so far this year, we are still managing to feed over 270 day scholars at Marula Junior School – every lunchtime for five days a week during term time. Up to now, we have been able to provide them with mealie meal (porridge made from maize) which is still available – at a price – plus beans, soy chunks, cabbage, tomatoes and a soup. I was at the school two days ago and attach photographs of some of the very happy recipients. For most of these children, this is the only proper, balanced meal they will have in the day – and many of them have to walk miles to school and back on an empty stomach.
That’s the thing about this country, and you can see it from the photographs: no matter how tough things are, the people remain amazingly cheerful and friendly. But right now they are being pushed to their limits – and this year there will be no relief to their suffering.
We are so grateful for the help that you have given us in the past. If you can spare a little more, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you will be saving lives. Many of these children are HIV positive or actually have AIDS – so once their immune system is compromised through hunger – they are in danger of succumbing to the disease.
Many thanks from the children at Marula Junior School for your kindness.