Hunger Season...sounds familiar right? Well, what I'm talking about isn't fiction and it isn't a series of best-selling books. I'm talking about a real 21st century place, a place where hunger is as familiar as winter; it's just another season.
At this time of year in Malawi, Africa (a small, beautiful country at the southern tip of the Great Rift Valley) people run out of maize their staple food. It's a country where 80% of the population are subsistence farmers growing their own food. Their single annual crop harvested in April/May is supposed to last the whole year. Problem is…it never does. Couple this fact with the global economic crisis and an abysmal crop last year and you start to understand the feeling of desperation that many Malawians feel at the moment. (photo: empty silo Nkhotakota, Malawi)
When their home-grown crops run dry, families have to buy maize at the market. Simple economics tells us that when demand is high and supply is low prices go up. This is exactly what our producer partners in Malawi are experiencing right now. The 12 million subsistence farmers that don't shop much at the markets during the year are all going there in droves looking for the same thing at the same time…maize! Not surprising that prices have skyrocketed. Until April or May when the next harvest starts, folks scrap together what they can to make ends meet and unfortunately often just have to get used to the feeling of a rumbling, hungry stomach. (photo: ufa, maize flour at Mzuzu market)
However, believe it or not, from half a world away you can actually do something to help. Dsenyo works with over 90 women and artisans in Malawi. That's 90 families…about 450 people…who's lives depend in-part from income generated through work with Dsenyo. When you buy gifts or treat yourself to something special from Dsenyo you can feel good about it knowing that it puts fair wages directly in the hands of people that need it most. You can be assured that the women and artisans we work with are using their wages to support their families. Just last week we collected finished products from a group in Northern Malawi. After receiving their wages they reported back that they are now able to pay school fees for their children, put food on the table, buy shoes so they don't have to go barefoot and invest in fertilizer to grow stronger crops in their gardens. Our Malawian coordinator wrote, "Every one of the women appreciated very much [the Dsenyo work] and asked when they would have another order. They said I should tell you not to take too long to remember them. They also appreciated that this year things have started very well and everyone wished [this year] will continue the way it has started." (photo: Nyozeni, Dsenyo producer at Ndiwasa Village)
Help us remember these ladies and think of Jennifer, Agness, Charity, Nyozeni and many others who you are helping next time you purchase from Dsenyo.
To read more about hunger season: