Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hunger Season

This is a really difficult time of year in Malawi. It is known as Hunger Season because people are really hurting for food this time of year. The July maize harvest is long gone and any extra cash from selling crops is gone as well. Plus planting just started with the rains in December, so nothing is ready to harvest yet.

I don't know if it is worse this year, or if it is just that my Chichewa is better and I know more people now, but I clearly see the effects of Hunger Season around me.

At home, where I have a giant mango tree nearby and a papaya tree in the yard, I have people coming by almost daily to ask if they can collect green unripe mangos to eat. Mostly children, but my adult neighbors and even some strangers have come by too.  At first I tried to get people to leave a few green ones so that they can ripen (fresh ripe mangos in my yards are one of my favorite things about living here), but I gave up on that. For one thing, in the village there is no tomorrow, so a green mango in the hand is worth two in the tree. People need food today. The other reason is that it did no good anyhow. People just waited till I went to school and hopped my fence and took them. So I'd rather they go to the honest neighbors that ask me.

(This single ripe mango was so high up in the tree. It was torturing

In the market I notice more people asking for money. In fact my neighbor has asked for money to buy food a couple times this month. Just small stuff, like money to buy tomatoes and an egg. At school a teacher told me the students are not staying afterschool to study because they haven't eaten anything all day. Also I have noticed students sleeping in class recently, but who knows, maybe they are just bored.

I know I can't solve the problem, but I try to do little things, like sharing food with the kids that come over to read books and practice English. I always have extra and it feels good to share.

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