Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Food crisis in Swaziland

Richard Rooney recently reported on the effects that malnutrition are having on children in Swaziland. According to his information, four children out of ten in Swaziland are so malnourished that their growth has been permanently stunted. It’s not only with children that we see the effects of malnourishment. Many of the people we work with in our home-based caring program have been convinced to go for HIV testing and if found to be positive, they then went for blood tests to determine their CD4 count and if found to be less than 200 cells per cubic millimetre, they then become eligible for anti-retroviral therapy (ARV). The problem is, without healthy food, the ARV therapy may add on a few years to a person’s life (which is certainly better than nothing), but combining healthy eating habits with ARVs could often add on ten years or more to a person’s life.
Richard writes that in the past year about 600,000 out of Swaziland’s total population of less than one million people have received donor food aid. But apparently this assistance is now being reduced. Obviously the food given to these people were really very basic. But even so, at least it was something. But what is going to happen if this food is further reduced?
Although all our care-givers working in the home-based caring project are working voluntarily, since February this year we have been able to give each of these care-givers a food parcel once every two months. We don’t know for how long we will be able to do this, but we undertook to continue doing this until the money runs out – which should have happened in April! But we seem to be experiencing something of the widow’s jug – a miracle for which we are extremely thankful! In any case, the reason for giving them the food is two-fold: On the one hand we feel that this is a small sign of appreciation for what they do. But on the other hand we know that healthy food will increase their capability of caring for others. Keep in mind that many of our care-givers themselves are HIV-positive. Included in the food packet is a bag of rice. But we have been warned that the price of rice will probably double in the near future! We also feed a group of orphans daily at our church. I trust that we will be able to continue with this, regardless of the price of food. But what about the thousands upon thousands of orphans who do not have access to feeding schemes?
What happens in a country where 67% of the population earn less than 45 US cents per day (not even enough to buy half a loaf of bread), if the price of basic foodstuffs start doubling?
I don’t yet know what is going to happen. I do know that we as family complain about the price of groceries, and I really don’t think that we follow a lavish lifestyle. But if you hardly have any money to buy food and the prices increase by 100%? Then you’re in deep trouble. And I can foresee that Swaziland (as many other African countries) is going to be in a real food crisis very soon.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - Posted by | Africa, AIDS, Dependency, Health, HIV, HIV & AIDS, Home-based Caring, Mission, Poverty, Social issues, Swaziland, Theology

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