Her name is Linda, and her plea is the same as those that came before her, and it will remain the same as those who come after her - "Will you help me?"
It is easy to see the faces and hear the cries - then turn a deaf ear with our own words like: "Why can't they help themselves?" or "That is their problem, not mine." or "There is always somebody needing help; we can't do it all!" I suppose these statements have a bit of truth to them, but then I read where Jesus said if someone asks you for your coat, you should give them your cloak also. Or something about true religion is when you help the widows and orphans - the ones that really can't help themselves. Or worse, the words that tell us that when we see someone in dire need and we refuse to help... well, you get the picture.
Linda lives in an orphanage with seven other children. These children have lost their parents to the AIDS pandemic. They have nowhere to go, no one to look after them. If it weren't for the orphanage they live in, they might very well be living on the street, sleeping in a back ally somewhere, and begging on the street for their very existence.
This orphanage is struggling to put enough food on the table for these eight children, not to mention clothes, school fees, medical attention, and school supplies. Life here is "back to basics", the extreme basic of enough food to live today. This orphanage receives a small amount of financial assistance on a monthly basis, $300 USD. This may sound like a lot, but it is the total monthly support for ten people, one house, utilities, food, clothes, school fees, uniforms, and supplies. Three hundred dollars does not stretch nearly far enough.
The orphanage is fortunate in that they own about 5 hectares of land, which is more than enough land to raise food that will sustain their lives. But they have not raised any kind of crop for the past 3 or 4 years because there was not enough money to buy the seed and fertilizer to plant. Hopefully, this year there will be a turn-around for this orphanage because today they are planting enough maize to have food for the coming year, maybe even enough to sell some and thereby generate a small amount of income.
Maize is the staple food of Africa. With it you can live; without it you will die. If you miss one planting season, you go hungry all year long. Thanks to the generosity of one person this orphanage is planting life in the ground today, and with God's blessings they will be filling their stomachs tomorrow! Most people who are "down on their luck" will tell you, "All I need is a helping hand!" God has answered their prayer with a "helping hand" today.
With this garden these children have a good chance of not having to go to bed hungry this year. The only problem is that this crop will not be harvested until sometime in April of 2009, so their struggle is not over yet. Maybe you would like to help in some way. Again, we can say that this story is repeated over and over again here in Malawi, and there is always a face that is speaking louder than words ever will!