For most of us, it’s difficult to imagine what hunger is really like.
Gnawing, relentless, unending hunger. Not getting enough nutrients to keep your body alive, much less growing. Or, worse, not getting enough to keep your children alive.
But that’s a reality many people face daily, including countless numbers in Tanzania
In fact, the government of Tanzania has declared the current food crisis in Tanzania to be a national disaster. The World Bank has determined that food prices in many East African nations have reached their worst situation in decades. TEARFund says 1.5 millions Tanzanians are “food insecure.”
And that crisis is affecting The Lion of Judah Academy.
The problem is rain. When it doesn’t rain, crops don’t grow. When crops don’t grow, people don’t have food enough to eat…much less enough to sell to raise money for daily needs. It’s a vicious cycle, and it has not rained well in much of East Africa for three years now.
90% of Tanzanians are subsistence farmers. That means they farm to provide food for their families. When they can’t raise food because it hasn’t rained, they don’t have any other way to feed their families. The result is famine and wrenching hunger.
And that is very true of the area around The Lion of Judah Academy.
You won’t see photos of malnourished, starving children at The Lion of Judah Academy, because we are going to do whatever is necessary to make certain our students have sufficient and nutritious meals every day. However, that doesn’t mean the school doesn’t find itself deeply affected by this crisis.
Many of our “day students” (those who live at home and come to school for the day) are receiving only one meal a day at home…and that meal is often so minimal as to hardly be considered a meal. Many of our boarding students know their families back home are suffering terribly. And food prices are such that, while food is usually available, the school is having to put many other important needs “on hold” during this current famine, just to pay for food staples, which are costing 300% more than in normal times..
A similar crisis developed in 2005 – 2006. At that time Lion of Judah Academy supporters rallied to raise sufficient funds to not only supplement the diet of our boarding students, but also to provide 35,000 meals, primarily to two groups of children:
1) children in the village, whose families were suffering terribly
2) day students whose families were unable to provide adequate food to their children.
We are initiating a similar “famine relief program” at this time. The funds will be used to help relieve the pressure of providing healthy meals for our dorm students, as well as to acquire additional food, prepare it, and feed hungry day students and, as funds are available, village children.
The structure is in place to accomplish this goal immediately. We have the cooks, the kitchen, the distribution system. And there are many, many hungry children within reach of the school.
The cooks and staff have recently done a complete analysis of the school’s current food costs. Right now, with the increased costs of feeding the children, we are spending $1.95 each day to provide three healthy, nutritious meals for each student. That’s an average of 65 cents per meal. For our dorm students part of that cost is covered by their dorm fees…but the costs have increased so dramatically that we are unable to even feed the students for what we are receiving in dorm fees.
The earliest this crisis can possibly be alleviated is around January or February, 2013. That’s because the spring rains failed once again. The next rainy season is this fall (around October-November). If sufficient rains fall, that will be a huge blessing. However, even then it takes time before crops are ready to harvest and food actually starts to become available.
That’s a long time away!
Can you help? How about adopting this as a project for your family, church, school?
There are two primary ways you can provide immediate assistance:
1 – PRAY. Always the most important thing…pray!! Pray for the coming rainy season to begin early…rain regularly…and last longer than usual. Pray for God to stretch the available resources. Pray for ‘loaves and fishes’ type miracles right there at the school and in the homes and families of all those in the village and those connected to the school. Ask God to open the hearts of those who have enough, and more than enough…prompting them to share what they have with those who have little or nothing.
2 – donate funds to help feed hungry children during this crisis. You can donate through PayPal, using the “Donate” link above. Or you can send checks to The Lion of Judah Ministries. Information is at the “Contact Us” link above.
In our next post we will talk about what we are doing now to help avoid the negative impact of a crisis like this one when it comes again in the future…and it WILL happen again!