Australian churches help change lives in Zimbabwe through the Christmas Bowl
“Conservation farming has changed many lives of the people living in our community,” says Shanangurai Pedzisai, a farmer from the Mwenezi district of Zimbabwe.
“I am getting enough food to feed my family and help other people. Now I am a better woman, because I can make some money to put my children through school.”
Church-goers who support this year’s Christmas Bowl will be helping to lift Zimbabwean farmers like Shanangurai out of poverty, thanks to improved farming techniques which deliver greater crop yields.
The Christmas Bowl is the annual appeal of Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.
Act for Peace supports food security programs in some of the world’s poorest countries. In Zimbabwe, agriculture has been crippled by the combined effects of drought, HIV/AIDS and controversial government land reforms. As a result, more than 39 per cent of the population is undernourished.
Act for Peace’s project partners in Zimbabwe have introduced a low-cost and low-technology farming strategy, called conservation farming, which can increase a farmer’s yields by up to 200 per cent. Since adopting it, farmers have taken enormous strides towards achieving food security.
“With more funding, more farmers could be involved in the program and we would be able to make a much bigger impact on food security across the area,” said Alistair Gee, Act for Peace’s Executive Director.
“The flow-on effects are enormous. With better yields, farmers can buy clothes and school supplies for their children, and reliance on food aid is reduced.”
Conservation farming also has important social benefits.
“Psychologically, if you don’t have to think about food because it’s already there, there is less strain on members of the family, and it creates security,” said Elleck Mabhena, a project assistant on the conservation farming program. “It also builds self esteem for the farmers, knowing that they can provide for their families.”
By supporting the Christmas Bowl, people in Australia can help communities in Zimbabwe to grow their own food and become self-sufficient. A gift of just $100 will provide vital training for four Zimbabwean farmers in this sustainable agriculture method, helping them produce bigger and better crops.
Funds raised can also help provide food, shelter, peace-building programs, land clearance of unexploded bombs and other assistance to people in conflict- and disaster-affected countries around the world, including Burma, Ethiopia and the new nation of South Sudan.
“The Christmas Bowl has long been helping communities in Zimbabwe and in other parts of the world where conflict and disaster have created poverty and instability. This life-saving work around the world simply would not be possible without the support of people of faith around Australia,” said Mr Gee.
“For the more than 60 years that it’s been running, the Christmas Bowl has been a shining example of how churches can work together to make a real and lasting difference for so many people around the world.”
To give, visit the website or ring 1800 025 101.
Christmas Bowl resources for congregations, including worship resources, activities and PowerPoint presentations, can be also be downloaded from the Act for Peace website.
Act for Peace
Act for Peace is the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia and a member of the global ACT Alliance.
It empowers war-torn communities to reduce poverty, protect refugees and prevent further conflict.
Its project partners are currently assisting more than one million people in the world’s worst conflict-affected areas, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma.