She pointed to the sky. “The weather, it’s the weather. The weather has changed.”
Selena’s story sounds a little like a game of whack-a-mole. Her crops were wrecked by the floods. While she went to check her crops, her house collapsed. She now sleeps outside under a mosquito net. Her husband has left the village to find work. Her kids’ school is running out of food. It feels like every time she and her seven children get their heads above water, something else happens.
Selena and her family are hungry. They don’t eat every day. Because their crops have failed, they can’t feed themselves, and they have no way of making money. Some days, the kids are just too tired to walk to school.
Selena makes a drink to coat her children’s stomachs overnight. The drink is made from ground maize husks mixed with some water and, if she can afford the half penny it costs, a packet of powdered orange sherbet.
Poverty. Hunger. Hunger explained in one simple act – blending ingredients containing no nutrition, just to keep your kids alive through one more night.
She pointed to the sky again. Selena looked up and praised God.
And I was glad she could, because honestly, I felt angry. Where was the hope for the villagers I was meeting?
Another woman we met was one of the oldest in the village. The lines in her face told many stories. “For the past ten years, we haven’t been able to trust the weather. For the past two, it’s been hell.”
We heard stories about everything from flooding to drought. It’s a game of extremes. This is climate change.
Climate change. Those two words were a massive switch-off for me. I’m not a ‘justice junkie’. Being an average 26-year-old in a fairly affluent area, climate change didn’t affect my worldview – my choices, my thoughts, my habits. But, shockingly, the biggest personal challenge I brought home from Malawi was about the footprint I am leaving on the earth.
When we were in Malawi, the President declared a state of national disaster. We arrived at the tail-end of the rainy season, and there had only been one week of rain. I was told it wouldn’t be back until November, and the situation was already pretty dire. Where does that leave the people we met? Selena and her family? The other villagers whose hunger has already stolen lives? Again I asked myself: where was the hope?
I am part of a prayer movement, but after I’d heard Selena’s story, silence came over me. And then my prayers became groans, almost echoing the groans of hungry bellies. My prayers in Malawi weren’t beautifully worded. The temptation is to ignore these things, but God wants us to bring them to him: he’s right there with us when we are broken-hearted and angry at injustice.
I feel like the little boy in John 6 with his five barley loaves and two small fish. All I can bring is the telling of the stories I hear and pray that this helps change the story of Malawi – that they may become stories of hope.
And where is the hope? My hope on the trip came from seeing Tearfund’s partners. They are people who love Jesus, and who love Malawi. Their passion was overwhelming. This wasn’t a job, it was a calling. Seeing that made me feel like Malawi was in safe hands because their hearts are for the people we met.
Let’s pray for Malawi:
- for Selena and her family;
- for other people who face poverty and the devastation it can bring daily;
- for Tearfund’s partners who are working tirelessly to bring hope.
And let’s consider the effects our daily habits can have on the most vulnerable. By recycling more, reducing our carbon footprint, or even partaking in Meat-free Mondays, we can make a difference. Find out more here.