Since September 2003, Iris Africa has had the provision every month to bless some of the most desperate people in and around Bangula. This is a great testimony of God’s faithfulness and the generosity of His people. The feeding program began after witnessing the immense need among the vulnerable people. This program has grown to assist over 8,000 people with food. In order to receive food all beneficiaries must be registered for the Iris Africa feeding program. Those selected represent the most vulnerable in the community: the elderly, blind, crippled and sick. The majority are widowed grandmothers who care for their orphaned grandchildren. Every year the list is evaluated to ensure the beneficiaries are truly in need. At that time, some are taken off the list but given the deep-rooted poverty most are re-registered. There are now more than 3,000 registered households that we are assisting. These households represent over 8,000 people, 63% of whom are children. 76% of those children are under the age of 12. The feeding program is making a significant difference in the health of thousands of people who would be suffering greatly if it was not for this assistance. The feeding program happens between the 15th and the 17th of every month.
|What does it cost to feed a desperate family each month? The main staple is called nsima which is made from maize flour. Families usually eat this with green leaf vegetables, beans, cow peas, or eggs, chicken or fish. A poor family will usually only eat nsima with beans or vegetables. The monthly cost to feed a family of five is approximately $55 Canadian dollars. The purchases 50 kg of maize ($14.00), 25 kg of mixed beans ($24.00) Salt, sugar, oil, and vegetables ($17.00).The Iris Africa feeding program provides each family with a portion of their monthly food needs which usually amounts to 10 days of food. Each family has the responsibility to find the remainder of their food either by planting a small garden, or benefiting from other relatives. Some people, without any other support, return to Iris Africa requesting further help. When we have the means, we help again.|
|What do we give?Most of the time, we purchase maize and beans by the ton through local suppliers with money that has been designated by donors for this program. We have also been blessed each year with several containers of dehydrated rice casserole meals, called Manna Packs, thanks to concerned individuals and organizations. These rice meals are delicious and very nutritious.|
|Generous donors supply funding for Iris Africa to purchase maize and beans locally as well as raise funding to send 40 foot containers full of dehydrated rice casserole meals currently referred to as Manna Packs|
|How do we know who are the most vulnerable?Manuel Ali is the Director of the Iris Africa Food Distribution program. He has been involved with Iris from the beginning. His job is to manage the food distributions, oversee security, and registration of the individuals on the program. He has a team of volunteer pastors and others from the community who assist him. He also moves around on his motorbike throughout the villages, providing followup and pastoral care for the families involved with this program. Joanna recently interviewed him and here’s what he has said.|
Interview with Manuel Ali (Iris Africa Food Distribution Director)
by: Joanna Morrison
Joanna: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Ali: I am Manuel Ali. I am married to Chrissy, and we have 9 children.
Joanna: How many people are presently living in your house?
Ali: There are 22, because many people in trouble come looking for a place of peace.
Joanna: So you know first hand the difficulty of feeding many mouths?
Ali: It is very hard to find food. I just give thanks to God because we have help. We also plant in various fields. We plant maize, beans, spinach and sweet potatoes.
|Joanna:How long have you been involved with Iris Africa?Ali: I started in 2000 at a time when we had many troubles,
drought, flooding. I had to find small businesses selling
salt, or oil.Joanna: How many people does Iris Africa in Malawi feed
each month?Ali: We are feeding 8,000 right now.Joanna: Why can these people not feed themselves?
Ali: The weather here is very difficult. Some are very old,
Joanna: How do the rice packs help those who are on our
Ali: Those who have received rice these last months look stronger than those who have not. People really like the rice packs
because they do not have to search for something to go with it. All they need is a pot and some water.
Joanna: Is there one story which stands out from last month?
Ali: There was one a woman who came all the way from Thyolo. She is a widow with no one to help her. She came on the
train, and then by bicycle, and then boat. She came because she was hungry, and I was able to give her 20 packets of
rice to take home to her family.
Joanna: What would you like to tell those who send the rice packs to us?
Ali: Without this rice, many people would suffer. The rice gives strength to people’s bodies, more than maize. Every Friday
we meet together to give thanks to God for you, that God would watch over your businesses, and your families. Please do
not grow tired as we continue to struggle with bad weather, and poor crops. For our part, we will not stop praying for you.
What has the impact been on the Bangula Community?
The people on this feeding program would not be eating if not for the generous donors who support the food distributions at Iris Africa.
THANK YOU! One of the Iris kid’s, Grace wants to thank you!
Together with her younger brother, 13 year old Grace has been at Iris Africa since her parents died in 2006.
She addressed this letter to “Friends”, intended to speak to all who have helped send food to us.
“Dear Friends, First of all I want to thank you so much. You have a generous heart of giving. Thank you
for sending containers of food to us. You have blessed so many people in Malawi. Here at the Iris base
the children really like that rice. When it is time to cook, everyone is happy because it is our favorite
meal. You also bless village children so much. They all say thank you because when they eat your food
they also feel good. Do not stop what you are doing. God is very happy because you have blessed so
many people like me. May the Lord bless you and give you more of His wisdom”.