Food assistance gives Malawian woman energy to work again

Friday, April 20, 2018

Through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada, Tamulo Chimbudzi and her family received food assistance last year. “I’m grateful for the support from Canadians who are so far away,” she says. “Because of the food, my family ate regularly again.” (Photo: Shaylyn McMahon)

When 82-year-old Tamulo Chimbudzi and her husband Molesi were younger, they were successful farmers. They grew crops like maize and peanuts on their farm in the Kudziwe community near Lilongwe, Malawi.

As they got older, however, the physical demands of farming became more challenging, and they were unable to maintain the hard work.

For many Canadians, this wouldn’t be a cause for alarm–it’s common to retire and live off a pension and savings. In Malawi, pensions and savings are hard to come by. Older relatives usually look to their younger family members for support.

But what happens when kids get married and move away? Tamulo relies on finding work doing odd jobs on neighbouring farms.

Molesi became ill and cannot do much physical work, so Tamulo works by herself. The money she makes is used to buy food for the rest of their family–Molesi’s elderly mother, Tamulo’s older siblings and the couple’s young granddaughter.

It’s not easy for Tamulo. She walks anywhere from two to five kilometers to her jobs, and she usually works seven days a week when work is available.

When work isn’t available, the challenges increase.

An El-Nino related drought in 2016, compounded by the effects of flooding the year before, resulted in poor crop yields and record-high food prices for Tamulo’s community. Work became scarce, and affordable food even scarcer.

Tamulo and her family began eating just once a day, and sometimes they would go a day without any food at all. When they did eat, it was usually okra and bush vegetables that weren’t filling or sufficient.

Through Canadian Foodgrains Bank member Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada, Tamulo’s family received monthly food packages of maize, pulses, corn-soy blend and oil for three months.

The food she received gave Tamulo the energy she needed to work again. She was able to earn and save money to support her family once the food packages had finished.

“I’m grateful for the support from Canadians who are so far away,” says Tamulo. “Because of the food, my family ate regularly again.”

– Shaylyn McMahon, Communications Assistant