“Tlala e lala tlas’a sesiu”— “Famine sleeps under the basket used for grain.”
The people of Malawi, Africa know famine, poverty, and death, all too well. The years 2002, 2005, 2007, 2012 and 2013 have all brought life-ending food shortages to the region. Life expectancy is only 50 years and over half the nation lives on 90 cents per day.
With famine playing a devastating role in the lives of Malawians, a cultural eating hierarchy has ensued. The man of the house eats first,
then the eldest sons, the mother, and, finally, the children. The men of the house and eldest sons are seen to play the most invaluable roles in a family, as they are the ones who, through farming and other means, provide the little they can for their family. However, for mothers with young, dependent children, survival of the fittest is commonplace. Often, mothers with limited resources are left to choose which children will receive food, and which children will suffer and starve. It is no wonder that almost half of children under the age of 5 in Malawi suffer from chronic malnourishment.
More and more children are being affected daily from this gross reality, and food shortages are driving prices up to a point where simply having enough food to eat is quite literally, unaffordable. Malawi’s staple crop, corn maize, normally sells in bags of 50 kilos for around 3500 Kwatcha ($10 US), and will feed a family of 4 for a month. From May 2013-August 2013 the price spiked to 7500 Kwatcha per bag—a number so outrageous that, villagers could not afford to buy maize. Villagers do not have any method by which to travel to areas with better prices, and are faced with the difficulty of finding the money to pay, or starve to death, which many do. “Hoarding” has become a common occurrence. Malawian’s with some means, upon realizing that May 2013 was a poor harvest season, have purchased the available corn maize at the 3500mk – 4500mk price and are waiting until the prices rise exponentially before selling to the privileged few, further fueling the shortage. By November of 2013, one 50kg bag of corn maize is expected to sell at 14,000-17,500 Kwatcha ($40 US to $50 US)—a price virtually no one in Malawi can afford. At this very moment, the majority of rural village people in Malawi cannot afford food, and will not be able to until June 2014.
The combined impact of drought, poor crops, hoarding, and food price-gouging, the prospect of merely having enough food to eat is out of control. PB+J Foods, Inc., a small, private, non-profit organization based in Laguna Niguel, California, is dedicated to fighting
malnutrition in Malawi with a fortified peanut butter paste is, however, slowly yet diligently chipping away at the problem. In just one year, PB+J Foods programs saved the lives of nearly 1,200 children in Malawi. In a year of severe famine that will take too many lives too soon, PB+J is reaching out to people across the country to help the thousands of children who will face certain death without help.
To learn more about the amazing work being done by PB+J Foods and its amazing volunteers and to help by making a donation, volunteering, or serving in Malawi please visit www.pbjfoods.org/animation.