When fasting isn’t a choice – voices from Zimbabwe

7 March 2018

You may be giving up your favourite food this Lent or abstaining from meat on Fridays, but in many countries around the world, fasting is not a choice.

Statistics about hunger and malnutrition are shocking - it is expected that more than 300 children will die from malnutrition just in the next hour.

It can be hard to see past these overwhelming figures.

Donate to the CAFOD Lent Appeal today

So what is life really like for the millions who go hungry?

Three people from Zimbabwe share the reality of hunger in their everyday lives.

Marian – hunger makes me afraid

Marian Magumise outside her home in Zimbabwe

Marian - hunger makes me afraid

There have been whole years where my family haven’t had enough food.

On those days, I’d wake up and put water on the fire with the hope that I’d find something to cook for breakfast.

I felt hungry. I had no strength and no power in my body. I was shivering like someone with malaria.

And I thought, if I’m feeling hungry, what about my children? It must be worse for them.

My children were thin. Sometimes their hair was thin as well. They were tired and unhappy. They stopped playing. I was very afraid.

Watch how Marian’s life changed with CAFOD’s support:

Peter – I’m always thinking about the next meal

Peter Mudzemeti outside his home in Zimbabwe

Peter - I'm always thinking about the next meal

I wake up at 4am. The first thing I think is: “Where should I go to help my family survive?”

I go to the fields in search of work. If I’m lucky, I’ll get casual labour on a nearby farm. Maybe removing trees or digging manure. It’s hard work.

They pay me with whatever they have. If they have cash, I get $5 per day. This can help buy food.

When I do get food, then I start thinking about the next day. I’m always thinking about the next meal. There are times when I feel desperate.

Donate to help Peter grow a vegetable garden

Memory – my students fall asleep in class

Memory Sakuhuni outside Simatelele Secondary School, Zimbabwe

Memory - my students fall asleep in class

Hunger in the community is affecting our learners here at school.

Some children only come to school two or three days a week, because they are hungry and weak. A lot of them walk to school from very far away. So they stay home because they’re too hungry.

Those who do come to school will not be interested in playing with others. They lose concentration in class. Some fall asleep. They’re very quiet, you know? Morale is low.

Meet two of Memory’s students:

The food problem is causing students to starve. I see diseases like kwashiorkor, especially in the young ones. This type of malnutrition makes them skinny and stunts their growth. The stunting even affects the brain and their school performance is poor.

Just £6 can train a health worker to weigh and measure babies to check for malnutrition

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