Tough Choices


November 17, 2008

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    Mercy Corps  </span>
    Naison contracted malaria earlier this year. But the mosquito nets are needed more for fishing than disease prevention. Photo: Mercy Corps

Naison and his friends are spending the afternoon fishing on the banks of southeastern Zimbabwe's Save River, hoping to catch a trout or an eel to bring home to their families. They are using the mosquito netting from Naison's home as a makeshift fishing net.

This netting is supposed to protect him and his siblings from malaria infection. Naison knows the danger: Earlier this year, he contracted a case of the debilitating disease. But when there's no food and no money to speak of, the nets are needed more for fishing than disease prevention.

Hard choices

Zimbabwean families are facing hard, even unimaginable choices these days.

Unemployment rates are soaring. Even wage earners face crippling inflation rates, which have reached an astounding 231 million percent, according to the government's own figures. Under these conditions, it is extremely difficult to purchase food, let alone save money.

You can help protect Naison and others like him from the worst effects of Zimbabwe's ongoing economic meltdown.

Strengthening food security

Mercy Corps is helping vulnerable families in three impoverished districts in Zimbabwe to set up communal gardens that will benefit the entire community. We're teaming with local government officials to offer training on how best to prepare the soil and keep out pests, and supplying families with vegetable and herb seeds.

The goal is to let the people who tend to the gardens use the spinach, squash, mint and rosemary for their own cooking — and then sell the surplus to pay for other household needs.

Naison is excited. The garden his sister is tending will be growing his favorite vegetable: cabbage. And it means less time worrying over makeshift fishing nets or where his next meal is coming from. Instead, many meals to come will be harvested from gardens tilled and tended to by the hands of his family and his community.

Children like Naison are especially hard-hit by the ongoing economic crisis. Your generous donation offers real solutions to help make their lives easier.