BIC World Hunger Fund contributes $55,000 to Zimbabwe hunger relief effort

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Workers load the mealie meal onto a waiting
truck. The truck delivered meal to five districts
and thousands of people throughout Zimbabwe.

GRANTHAM, Pa. (Feb. 11, 2009)—The World Food Program (WFP), the United Nations’ frontline agency in the fight against global hunger, reports that the food crisis in Zimbabwe is worsening by the day. In January, the WFP scaled up efforts to provide much-needed rations to 4.5 million people across Zimbabwe—more than one-third of the country’s population.

Although the efforts were successful, the organization now reports that without additional financial contributions from donors, it will be forced to reduce rations in February and March, the peak hunger months before the annual harvest begins in April.

In response to this growing need and alarming news, the Brethren in Christ World Hunger Fund (WHF) authorized in mid-January the disbursement of $55,000 to the Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe. The funds were used to purchase 80 tons of mealie meal, a staple of the Zimbabwean diet.

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The mealie meal awaits distribution
at a warehouse in Zimbabwe.

In February, bags of the mealie meal were distributed in regional districts a with significant Brethren in Christ population: Mtshabezi, Wanezi, Gwayi, and others. Although the meal is being distributed by BIC church leaders and in coordination with local BIC congregations, nobody has been turned away.

“All who are needy in the community are eligible to receive,” says Jake Shenk, Brethren in Christ World Missions (BICWM) regional coordinator for southern Africa, who assisted in coordinating the distribution effort. “At one distribution point, I was told that one man—a non-Brethren in Christ—said, ‘I have never seen the church give assistance to everyone, including those who are not church members.’”

Jake notes that the response to the food distribution has been “very encouraging” and estimates that “about 9,000 people will benefit from this distribution.”

“We had told the people in the various [districts] that they would need to be present when the truck arrives and help to offload,” he says. “I asked the driver after he had delivered the first load, ‘How long did it take to offload?’ He responded that it took about 10 minutes to offload 700 bags. The people were so eager to receive the meal that they offloaded it in a very short time so that it could be distributed.”

About the World Hunger Fund

The WHF challenges us Brethren in Christ in North America to review our lifestyles so that we can direct more resources toward hunger relief and other benevolence programs. Recognizing that the hope we have in Christ is lived out in service to one another, we respond with gifts that encourage and support our sisters and brothers around the world.

In 2008, the fund disbursed more than $213,000 ($127,823 from U.S. and $86,965 from Canada), making significant contributions to flooding assistance in southeast Asia, housing relief in Honduras, and hunger relief in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

To contribute to the World Hunger Fund:

In the U.S.: Gifts can be made online by clicking the “Make a donation” link at the bottom of this page. (Please specify “World Hunger Fund” in drop-down menu.) Contributions may also be given by sending a check made out to “General Conference of the Brethren in Christ, Inc.” to 431 Grantham Road, PO Box A, Grantham, PA 17027. (Please indicate “World Hunger Fund” on the memo line of the check.)

In Canada: Cheques should be made out to the “BIC Canadian Conference” and mailed to the Canadian Conference of the BIC Church, 2700 Bristol Circle, Oakville, ON L6H 6E1. (Please indicate “World Hunger Fund” on the memo line of the check.)