Groups help alleviate hunger in Zimbabwe


Key points:

 • United Methodist Women gave an $8,000 grant to assist 200 of the most disadvantaged families in rural communities.

 • Since the COVID-19 outbreak, The Nyadire Connection has helped more than 400 in the Nyadire Mission communities and surrounding United Methodist clinics.

 • Members of the Harare East District reached out to older adults and theology students with food and other donations.


COVID-19 lockdowns robbed many Zimbabweans of basic necessities for survival, with food topping the list. In response, United Methodist Women, The Nyadire Connection and the Harare East District reached out to 800 vulnerable families with food donations and other relief.

United Methodist Women gave an $8,000 grant to assist 200 of the most disadvantaged families in the rural communities of the Chimanimani Chipinge and Murehwa Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe districts.

“The project was well-timed,” said Tendai Rebecca Gurupira, area coordinator of ministry with women, children and youth, “especially in rural communities where resources were strained with child-headed families and households led by the elderly; physically challenged and chronically ill people (were) the most affected.”

Monica Maposa carries a bundle of donated food and sanitation supplies she received during a distribution at Murewa Center United Methodist Church outside Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News. 

Monica Maposa carries a bundle of donated food and sanitation supplies she received during a distribution at Murewa Center United Methodist Church outside Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News.

Octogenarian Julia Chimberengwa of Mutambara Center United Methodist Church said her community — in the Chimanimani Chipinge District — had faced calamity after calamity, including droughts, Cyclone Idai and COVID-19.

“All threatened lives, livelihoods and food security,” she said. “The young and elderly people are sleeping without having had a meal. It is heart-rending, seeing grandchildren enduring this suffering. I am very grateful for these food hampers. To God be the glory!”

Lucia Cheza, 90, a member of Mutambara West United Methodist Church, said, “With age, my health is failing, but I had to endure the long distance to Mutambara Center on foot to receive my share of the donation. It took hours, but I do not regret it because I am going back home with something for my family. My church is good, and I love it.”

Theresa Mutambara, 91, of Mutambara Center was overwhelmed with joy. “I never dreamed of getting all these goodies,” she said. “Where your mind ends, God takes over. This is what has happened to me. I thank you, Lord.”

Monica Maposa, a member of Uzumba East United Methodist Church, said hunger “can reduce you to a beggar. We ended up braving the virulent COVID-19 in search of food.”  

Recalling Jeremiah 29, which promises “a future with hope,” she added, “Little did we know that God had plans for our welfare.”

“This greatly motivated us,” said the Rev. Noah Chapfika. “My church has done great.”

Bundles of food and sanitation supplies are laid out for recipients at the The United Methodist Church’s Mutambara Mission, south of Mutare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News. 

Bundles of food and sanitation supplies are laid out for recipients at the The United Methodist Church’s Mutambara Mission, south of Mutare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, The Nyadire Connection has helped more than 400 in the Nyadire Mission communities and surrounding United Methodist clinics, as well as Mutoko-Mudzi District pastors, with monthly food bundles.

These food supplements, said the Rev. Lancelot Victor Mukundu, Nyadire Mission Station chair, have “been quite a relief for vulnerable families, who were already stressed due to the country’s economic crisis, high inflation, low disposable income and compressed wages.

“As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of TNC mission work,” he said, “we pray that the relationship may continue to bear fruit.”

The Nyadire Connection chair Drew Harvey said that the combined crises of severe drought and COVID-19 made food provision an urgent priority. “We went to our supporters,” he said, “and through their amazing generosity, we raised more than $100,000, which allowed us to fund food purchases for 11 months.

“April was the final month of food distribution,” Harvey said. “We are hopeful that the current harvest will make food more available. This partnership has become mutually beneficial to so many people. We have great hopes of strengthening our relationship.”

In the Harare East District, the Ruwadzano RweWadzimai women’s organization converged at the Melfort Old People’s Home with food and other donations.

Addressing food insecurity 

Volunteer Elyssa Bollinger packages gleaned sweet potatoes for distribution to local
residents and for delivery to shut-ins during a socially distanced Society of St. Andrew “potato drop” at First
United Methodist Church in Mt. Olive, N.C., where Bollinger is a member. Most of the loose potatoes were placed
into pick-up trucks bound for feeding agencies and church food pantries. Photo by Michael Binger, Society of St.
Andrew.
Volunteer Elyssa Bollinger packages gleaned sweet potatoes for distribution during a Society of St. Andrew “potato drop.” Photo by Michael Binger, Society of St. Andrew.
Food-related ministries, a mainstay of United Methodist mission work, have provided a way for the church to respond to food access problems created by the coronavirus pandemic and the continuing economic effects of the crisis.

David Mavhuramani, a 100-year-old farmer, has lived at Melfort for five years. “I am overwhelmed by your love,” he said. “I do not know how best I can express my joy. What you have done for us is greatly appreciated, and we urge you to continue to do the same for others.”

After all of his children died, Mavhuramani moved to Melfort. “When I harvest,” he said. “I supply the kitchen and some of the farm produce I sell. I am very strong.”

“What The United Methodist Church has done confirms what real Christians are,” said Enercia Mushaba, a worker at the home. “It is our answered prayers.”

According to Emmah Mukahanana, Harare East District, the group also aided 14 student pastors at United Theological College. “Eleven are married with families, and three are single,” she said.

Pastor Ellen Gova, who leads the college’s United Methodist student fellowship, admitted that food challenges sometimes make it hard to concentrate on studies.

“We want to reassure you that we are not going to disappoint you,” she said. “We promise to achieve academic excellence with the help of God.”

The Rev. Oscar Nyasha Mukahanana, Harare East District superintendent, was delighted with the response to his Christmas Cheer Fund initiative. “More than 80 church members, destitute and passers-by were assisted,” he said.

“During the giving,” he said, “the atmosphere was heart-wrenching and an eye-opener as well.” Recipients shared testimonies of going without a decent meal for days.

“God knows the needs of our hearts,” said Rebecca Machangara, 77, a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. “We thank the church for this initiative. I stay alone and had nothing to eat. I am very grateful.”

Charles Gendi, 65, also from St. Paul’s, received food on behalf of his wife, Ester, 78, who can no longer walk. “God takes over our responsibilities when we think we have reached the end of the road,” he said. “We had nothing at home.

“I have run short of words,” Gendi added. “Thank you. This is a miracle from God.”

Chingwe is a communicator for the Zimbabwe East Conference.

News media contact: Julie Dwyer at [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.


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