Malawians don’t call their seasons Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter. They use descriptive words like Rainy Season, Cold Season, and Hungry Season. This time of year is often referred to as the lean, or hungry season. Many people have depleted their harvest from last year and their next harvest will not come in until March and April.
Now is the time of year when people are waiting for the rains to come. It is hot and steamy! Work begins at 3 or 4 AM. By noon, the sun is unbearable. Early in the morning, people are found in their fields preparing the ground to plant. It is back-breaking work and the fields look never-ending. Once the heavy rains begin to fall, they plant.
Since people have finished last year’s harvest and there is little to eat, we sometimes see people reaching into their mango trees, knocking down the fruit, even before it is ripe, so that they can boil the mangos and provide food for their families. Deforestation is a huge problem in Malawi because wood is used for cooking. The Mango tree, however, remains standing because this tree does something other trees cannot, “Nthetsa njala”, chases hunger away or provides a cushion to hunger. As Wellings Mwalabu, VIP’s Country Director, explains it is a coping mechanism that people use to get through the hungry times.
Please keep our brothers and sisters in your prayers as they move through the hungry season. Let’s pray for solid, steady rains this season that provides for full harvests.