When did we see you hungry?

Woman with malnourished child
Woman with malnourished child: they are often
the most affected in a food crisis.

When did we see you hungry and feed you? (Mt. 25:38)  Autumn 2011

Food distribution in Napateo:
the miracle of the loaves!

Children being weighed
Children being weighed to assess nutritional status. They will be given anti-malarial treatment and food.

MMM Staff give health education

Staff giving health education while people wait for food. Education is also planned for schools and by radio.

Sister Martine with children Napateo

Sister Martine with a group of children in Napateo.  The diocese is hoping to look after the needs of over 120,000 people.

An issue that has dominated the headlines in recent months has been the food security emergency mainly affecting the eastern Horn of Africa. The crisis is in large part the result of two consecutive seasons of below?average rainfall, resulting in one of the driest years since 1995. Crops have failed, substantial livestock mortality has occurred, and local cereal prices are very high. More than seven million people need humanitarian assistance and emergency levels of acute malnutrition are widespread. In most pastoral zones of the eastern Horn, pasture and water availability is below average and is likely to result in serious pasture and water deficits during the coming dry season (June?September). This is the most severe food security emergency in the world today. (Source: FEWS NET EAST AFRICA Food Security Alert June 7, 2011)

MMMs worked in this area for over 50 years, and so we have a special empathy for the people affected. Naturally we felt impelled to respond to this need in whatever way possible and we have been deeply touched by your generous response. We have agreed that donations coming to MMM for the famine will be channelled by our headquarters through the MMM East/Central Africa Business Administrator in Nairobi, who will see that they get to the Diocese of Lodwar in northern Kenya. We feel with our long history in Turkana and relationships built up over years, we will be able to contribute and monitor the work there. The Diocese has developed a comprehensive program for responding. As well as food distribution to answer immediate needs, there are plans to address longer term issues with livestock restocking, seed distribution, water and sanitation, livelihood promotion, and preventive education.

We have been very moved by your generous response to the needs of those another part of the world despite difficult economic times here and the concerns and anxieties of many of our supporters. To illustrate what your contributions have meant we share part of a report from Sr. Martine Makanga, MMM. While in general there are sufficient staff already available in Kenya, we were asked to send someone to coordinate food distribution and we were able to send Martine, a paediatric surgeon from the Republic of the Congo, to participate in famine relief work in Turkana. She had just completed six month's work as a volunteer in Nairobi and went to help from August 2 -15, 2011. She described her work as follows:

"In each village, a local Turkana man or woman helped us with translation and weighing children. They also helped in keeping order and calm as there was much excitement around food distribution. Attendance varied from one village to another between 200 to over 1000 persons. We only saw a few men as most of them were far away to find grass for their cattle. The groups most affected by malnutrition were the children under five years, the pregnant and lactating mothers, and the elderly people."

She related a personal experience:" We were in Napateo. As people kept coming and I wondered how we would feed the crowd, I shared my fear with the team and I prayed in my heart as we went on with our routine of education, screening, and consulting. By midday there were over a thousand women and children when unexpectedly, a lorry pulled in and people from the NGO Share came to us. They were on their way to another village but when they saw the crowd gathered, they wondered if they could use this opportunity to make a food distribution. Of course, this was the answer.  All of a sudden the parable of the multiplication of loaves and fishes became for me a reality right here in Napateo. We thanked God!"

I am grateful to my Congregation leaders, my community in Sports Road and all MMM sisters for their encouragement. I was privileged to be able to go to Turkana, even for a short period to help a little in this time of famine to be in solidarity with the people with whom MMM have lived for so many years. I learned much from the people of Turkana whose patience, tolerance and resiliency I admired.

With gratitude.