Across the world, food insecurity is an ongoing struggle that has been exacerbated in recent years by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and large-scale weather events. Between 691 and 783 million people face hunger and food insecurity.
When families don’t have access to food, they are more susceptible to malnutrition and other illnesses that can lead to chronic health issues. Children who experience chronic hunger are less likely to attend school consistently, and adults are less likely to be able to work, which makes access to nutritious food more challenging.
This year’s NCM Christmas Project supports compassionate initiatives that provide food relief in emergency situations and training and mentoring programs to help farmers find success. Whether in Ukraine, Malawi, Burundi, Armenia, Benin, Zambia, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, or beyond—when you give, you will stand with people who are hungry.
In Buganda, Burundi, a young man works a small plot of land. Stalks of maize reach toward the intense sun, ears weighing heavy, almost ready for harvest. Each ear is a product that will be sold in the market, generating life-changing proceeds for Eric and his family.
Eric and his siblings, two sisters and a brother, are lifelong members of their community. Years ago, civil unrest in Burundi forced Eric and his family to flee to the Congo as refugees. While there, his parents were killed by rebels, leaving Eric to care for his siblings. In 2021, they were able to return to Burundi and Eric made the difficult decision to leave school to provide for his siblings. “After the tragedy that struck my family with the death of my parents, life had become unbearable,” he shared.
Determined to take care of his family, Eric tried to make ends meet. “I went to the market of Buganda to be a shop keeper, but the salary I earned was not enough to get my family’s food and other needs,” he explained. “We even went for two days at a time with no food at home, and my brother and sisters were obliged to abandon school too, because of no food and no school fees. With the pressure of my brother and sisters to provide for, I didn’t know what to do.”
Despite a dire situation, Eric did not give up. He began working a farmer’s field, where he was paid in food grown on the farm. While there, he met a friend who invited him to join a youth association and community savings group (CSG), part of a church-led Nazarene Compassionate Ministries initiatives intended to increase food security in Burundi. Community savings groups provide a way for community members to save a portion of their salaries. The sum grows each month as members contribute a small percentage of their earnings. Members can then take out a loan, allowing them the necessary capital to start their own business ventures. Eric enrolled in the CSG and received business training through the initiative.
“We have food and I have paid for school for my two sisters and brother. I bought two rabbits and a goat with the profits acquired. During the dry season, I planted vegetables, and I am waiting for a good harvest in one month,” he said. With the profits from his farm, Eric plans to rent a larger plot of land.
Eric’s community also benefits from his involvement in the project. He is a testimony of transformation and a reminder that a better life is possible. As his business grows, Eric plans to pass the blessing on to others in his community in a vital way. When asked about his goals for the future, he shared that his first thoughts were for other children and young adults who have gone through the trauma of losing their parents.
“My goal is to help other orphans achieve the hopes that they dream of, help the youth in my community to join others in development, and tell them that change is possible. With hard work, and networking with others, we can achieve our goals and dreams as youth”.
When you support NCM’s Christmas Project, you support young adults like Eric as they work to provide for their families and transform their communities. Learn more: ncm.org/christmas.