Report on the current affairs of Maforga district

Dear Friends and supporters,
Greetings from Maforga, and many thanks for your generosity. It’s been an
exhausting but good time here as every morning we awake to a crowd of up to
a thousand people in our driveway. Usually there are roughly fifteen to
twenty people who have managed to push past the guards and sit, gazing up at
us hopefully, outside the office. It is impossible to go anywhere without
groups of desperate women with small babies on their backs, approaching and
pleading for help.

We have tried as far as possible to prevent a dependency by organizing a
food-for-work programme. We have a two-pronged strategy – Kees Tanis, on the
north side of the main road, has organized a food distribution in the
school – every child receives a pack of maize-flour and in that way we know
most of the kids in the area are covered. Of school-going age, anyway. He
also does distributions in the village on the north side, Chigueda village,
among widows and orphans. One group severely in need is the AIDS victims –
many cannot get to the distributions. The AIDS work programme at Maforga,
Rubatano, has been researching ways of meeting this need. Kees has been
involved in food distributions since October as the fire we had in 2008
destroyed the grain-stores of more than 450 families in the area and the
erratic weather patterns caused the people to lose two crop plantings from
that time, and many have lost a third – and it’s very late, now, for maize.

On the south side of the road at the farm called Khoro, we have a system
whereby two hundred “senyas” – tickets – are given out in the morning, and
those who arrive first take them and set to work under the supervision of
Joaquim Ernesto, earstwhile troublemaker who is now a foreman on the farm.
There are sometimes upwards of four hundred people left and Roy gives them
200 “senyas” for the next day’s work. The amount of food we are able to buy
is not always enough for them all so we have to stagger the groups. Those
that remain, are divided into groups: the pregnant women and those with
small babies are given preference, whilst the elderly and disabled are next,
then the men, then single women and children. Smaller amounts are given to
these as they have not worked for it, but enough to keep them for one or two
meals.

We have also exchanged maize flour for turkeys, goats and chickens and also
sweet potato seed and this has given us the chance to plant many sweet
potato beds in preparation for more tough times ahead. We have an instinct
that we need to grow as much food as possible, and to be ready to help
people in the future ourselves if  help isn’t forthcoming from overseas. We
stand on the scripture in Isaiah 3:10, “Say to the righteous, ‘it shall be
well with him…'” in the time of famine and chaos that has begun and may
become worse.

On weekends we are just too tired to do the food distributions so we have
begun to make 1,000 litres of maheu, a nutritious drink which is made from
fermented porridge and sugar and tastes a little like ginger beer. Those who
are really hungry can at least have a drink and take two litres home to
their families. However, last week, the maheu was not sufficient – we were
left with about a hundred people who had received nothing.

The guards help with giving it out – there are tickets given out otherwise
there is chaos with people trampling each other to get near the tank.
Preference is given to those who are weak and ill. A woman collapsed in our
lounge last Saturday but one. She was nearly dying of hunger – she slept on
our veranda after being given a glass of milk and a plate of porridge, At
the day’s end she was able to wander home.

The food-for-work group have planted two vast bean fields and are working on
a third. These are springing up like a vast green carpet. We have also
planted a stand of rice this year, and are thinking of flooding another area
in order to plant more. We feel urgent about producing food.

There is a group called “Farming God’s Way” which originated in Zimbabwe and
is teaching/helping/learning to do more productive gardens here. Although
here at Maforga they have produced a good harvest which is finally ripening,
it is far too little, too late, for the whole region. They have a course
nearby Gondola where they help families – we are hoping to send a group from
Mtsunza village, where a group  of young men has been helping to clear the
eucalyptus forest of invasive plants in return for food.

God has answered prayers for rain so far and the crops of many people are
beginning to stand up again after having been flattened and dried out. Some
new, fresh maize is coming in, so we are hoping the crisis will begin to
ease as the people have access to it. However, the crops of some are beyond
redemption. Many are now only eating pumpkin leaves – the other things have
dried up.

We are most grateful to you who have contributed to relieving this need.

Postscript – today Roy visited the administrator to hire his tractor and he
told Roy that because of the distributions, theft had greatly decreased in
the area. Normally at a time such as this the people begin breaking into
each others’ houses and stealing each others’ crops. (Last week an Indian
man in Chimoio lost his whole herd of seventeen cattle as bandits arrived in
a truck in the night, slaughtered the lot and left with the meat, leaving
the remains for him to clear up. He was devastated.)The theft has been
occurring but the people are very grateful that it has been curbed by the
distributions.

Please pray that we are protected from such things and that for next year we
will have a strategy that counteracts whatever may occur.

Many thanks and blessings,

Roy and Trish and all at Maforga

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