Hungry

Beatrice, a single mother of five, lives in Katiekera, an area of Kibera. In order to feed her children, Beatrice would wash cloths for a small fee. However, oftentimes there would be little to no need for her services and the lack of income meant she was not able to provide sufficient food for her five young children. In order to have enough to survive, her children would scavenge in dustbins and garbage dumps to find whatever morsels of food others had thrown away.

Beatrice, a single mother of five, lives in Katiekera, an area of Kibera. In order to feed her children, Beatrice would wash cloths for a small fee. However, oftentimes there would be little to no need for her services and the lack of income meant she was not able to provide sufficient food for her five young children. In order to have enough to survive, her children would scavenge in dustbins and garbage dumps to find whatever morsels of food others had thrown away.

When congregants of the Holy Spirit Church of East Africa, a member church of The Organization of African Instituted Churches where Beatrice fellowshipped heard of Beatrice’s struggle, they pulled together the little that they had to support her and her family for a period of time. However, since there was no structured plan intact and the money was quickly spent on necessities, Beatrice felt her only option to support her family was to move in with an older man. After a while, Beatrice found herself in the same position of not being able to provide sufficient food for her children.

Finding enough food for their family is a reality too many African mothers face, leading some to take drastic measures in order to keep their young ones from starvation.

Due to poor nutrition, it is estimated that up to 60% of poor children in Africa are anemic according to the United Nations Standard committee on Nutrition.

“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really had it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup-where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God talk without God acts is outrageous nonsense?” Message Bible James 2:14-17

The Organization of African Instituted churches believe it is important that we transform the pastoral duty of care and sharing so that truly no one should be hungry or under nourished where food an adequate nutrition is within reach. Infusing mission with a holistic concept of justice and genuine love for the neighbor is basic to our response. The OAIC believes that it is necessary that we link our pastoral work with our prophet calling. In doing so we shall seek to engage our congregations, our immediate communities and our national church structures to critically reflect on the underlying factors responsible for the hunger and under-nourishment in our midst.

Additional Reading:

Organization of African Instituted Churches:  Redeeming the Harvest: Action for Agriculture Food & Nutrition Security

United Church of Christ:  Just Eating? Practicing our Faith at the table

Rev. Phyllis Byrd serves with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.  This is a joint appointment with the Presbyterian Church, USA and the Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ.  She served as a theological educator in Nairobi, Kenya.