November 23, 2009 11:05:00 AM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
"As I try to sum up what I''ve seen, smelled, tasted and touched in the past two weeks here in Eburru, words fall short of describing the desperation of the situation here. The livelihoods of all living in this town and surrounding area are perilous, and if conditions do not improve, death is certain for many ... "
Those stark words were written by Annie Laurie Walters of David''s Hope, an international relief organization, as she shared an account of conditions in a small, drought-stricken village of Kenya. A village which recently came to the attention of Pastor Andy Pearson of Wesley United Methodist Church and his wife, Sally.
"Our daughter and son-in-law led a mission trip to Kenya and were so moved by the desperate situation there that the team came home and formed a foundation to address sustainable changes for this village, including working toward buying two acres of farm land for the village, helping its pastor refurbish an old house to turn into an orphanage -- and get a water system to the area."
Come out today
If the Wesley congregation, a host of community volunteers and the international hunger relief organization Stop Hunger Now have anything to say about it, this hard-hit locale will soon receive shipments of nutritious, life-sustaining food.
Everyone is welcome to join in the effort at the church located at 511 Airline Road in Columbus today from 2-4 p.m. Caring hands will package condensed meals containing soy protein, rice, minerals, vegetables and vitamins to help meet the immediate need.
Sally has been coordinating the project with Stop Hunger Now. She explained that one package will provide a full meal for six.
"Each serving costs 25 cents; that''s $1.50 a bag," she said. "Can you imagine feeding folks for 25 cents a serving?"
The volunteer effort has also been raising money to ship the boil-able dehydrated meals to Africa.
"We''ve found some creative ways to get people to save quarters!" she stated. "We realized we could do something locally to help in this emergency situation and perhaps raise a stockpile to help during the next drought." The meals have a shelf life of five years.
Today''s packaging isn''t the first spearheaded by the determined group. That was in October, at the Wesley Foundation, when 75 volunteers packaged 18,601 meals in just two hours. The remarkable efficiency is partly due to on-site coordinators from Stop Hunger Now, which coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid globally.
Pearson remarked, "It was fun and amazing at the same time. Mississippi University for Women students and other volunteers helped. Now MUW is developing a project to sponsor a packaging event in January and possibly another in the spring."
For additional information about local food aid initiatives, contact Wesley United Methodist Church at 662-328-8644. To read more about the village of Eburru, visit http://www.davidshope.org. Learn more about Stop Hunger Now at http://www.stophungernow.com.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.