BIC World Hunger Fund acts to alleviate food crises in Malawi and Mozambique

A mother and her son in Malawi

—In recent weeks, the BIC General Church in North America has been able to release a total of $13,700 (USD) through its World Hunger Fund to alleviate food crises in Malawi and Mozambique.

Late last week, in response to an urgent request on January 14, the Fund issued $4,500 (USD) to the BIC Church in Malawi, where severe draught has disrupted food availability for many. Although the government in Malawi has reported a surplus of food, Francis Kamoto, secretary of the BIC Church in Malawi, observes that people in the Chikwawa and Balaka districts of the country are struggling to find food to eat.

“Malwai has been enjoying the bounty of bumper harvests for a couple of years now, but despite the fact that the country has harvested more maize, there are places that people did not harvest at all,” he states. “Often, these places are disadvantaged because whenever there is too much rain, they are affected by floods, and whenever there is very little rain, they are affected by drought. Unfortunately, last year, they didn’t plant maize because the rains were not enough, and even cotton—the cash crop that is grown in these areas—did not do well.”

Kamoto cites a recent government report from Malawi’s Chikwawa district revealing that as a result of the drought, 46,700 families in the district have gone without a stable food source since March 2009.

To alleviate the suffering of these families, the BIC Church in Malawi will use the donation from the World Hunger Fund to purchase and supervise the distribution of maize to families in the Chikwawa and Balaka districts.

“We will not only be reaching out to our Brethren in Christ church members, but also to those who are not part of the Church,” Kamoto says. “The local chiefs and pastors will be responsible for choosing those that are the neediest. This includes orphans, the elderly, the severely sick, and the poor.”

This distribution will not only ease the immediate crisis, but will also enable farmers who had a bad season to concentrate on their own gardens, rather than work in others’ gardens in order to get food. Additionally, children will be able to attend school rather than having to labor in the fields and scavenge for food.

Congregants gather outside a BIC church in Mozambique

In addition to this gift to Malawi, Don McNiven, general secretary of the BIC Church in North America and administrator of the General Church’s World Hunger Fund, also approved a $9,200 (USD) contribution to the Hunger Crisis Project in Mozambique. It was estimated that about 580 families made vulnerable by food shortages would receive maize and beans to sustain them over the coming months.

“The gift comes as people struggle through a ‘hungry season’ that began last November,” Youngson Palibendipo, a missionary for the BIC Church in Mozambique, explains. 

“By now, the coping strategies reflect growing desperation,” he reports. “Individuals and communities are exhausting food stocks, selling livestock and other assets, mortgaging land, eating wild and raw foods, and turning to theft, which is punished by severe beatings, amputations, and worse.”

Speaking to the North American BIC Church’s ability to respond to these needs, McNiven says, “We are so grateful for the many individuals across North America whose gifts make this kind of compassion possible. It is a blessing to be able to take an active role in alleviating the suffering of our brothers and sisters in practical ways.”

He adds that he is pleased the World Hunger Fund was able to distribute the $4,500 (USD) in response to the request from Malawi, but notes that this amount fell short of the requested amount due to diminished giving to the general Fund.

“In addition to specific ongoing projects—like recovery efforts in Haiti  and Family to Family, Village to Village in Zimbabwe—it is important that we also remain equipped to respond to unanticipated crises,” he states. “Even as I encourage people to designate their gifts to projects that touch their hearts, I also ask that they enable us to reach out to the less publicized, but no less urgent needs of our brothers and sisters, with undesignated gifts to the BIC World Hunger Fund. Contributions are needed now more than ever.”

For more than 30 years, the WHF, partnering with sister BIC Conferences and MCC, has provided a way for BIC churches and individuals in Canada and the U.S. to offer relief assistance (e.g., food rations, flood recovery, school supplies, and housing) to their global neighbors.

In the U.S.: Donations can be made online by selecting “World Hunger Fund.” Additionally, you can mail a check to the Brethren in Christ Church Offices at 431 Grantham Rd, PO Box A, Grantham, PA 17027. When giving by check, please make it out to “General Conference of the Brethren in Christ, Inc.,” and use the memo line to designate “World Hunger Fund” and the specific projects (if any) you’d like the gifts applied to.

In Canada: Donations can be made online by selecting “World Hunger Fund.” However, donors will not be eligible to receive tax credit for any gifts given to the BIC Church online. Cheques should be made out to the “Canadian Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church ” and sent directly to the Canadian Conference of the BIC Church: 2700 Bristol Circle, Oakville, ON L6H 6E1. Use the memo line to designate “World Hunger Fund,” as well as the specific projects (if any) you’d like the gifts applied to.

Visit the BIC World Hunger Fund online for more information about the organization or how its contributions are distributed.