Hunger is a Constant Companion

“I’m not happy with my situation, but I don’t have any other choice”, Jestina Pellu says through a smile while both hands rest on her round belly. “A few oxen would be nice, so that I could plow my field”, she adds humbly. Jestina is 38 years old and six months pregnant with her fourth child, whom she has to care for on her own. Her three sons are named Lucky, Victor and Success, but their names are more a hope for their future than reality. Her first husband died of AIDS in 2010. Her second husband recently left her. Now she is fighting on her own for the survival of her family, which has become particularly difficult in the past years. Her small hut lies in the district of Chipinge, in the southeast of Zimbabwe, that has been suffering from severe drought since 2014. There has hardly been any rain, nothing can grow on the fields. Hunger has become a constant companion in Jestina’s home, too.


How Johanniter-International Assistance is Helping the Forgotten People in Zimbabwe

Johanniter International Assistance have been working in Zimbabwe since 2002. They used to provide hospitals with medicine and medical consumer goods, renovate health stations, and train health assistants in rural areas. Since 2009, the Johanniter have been working with local partner organizations to improve the water supply to the east of Zimbabwe in a fight against widespread diseases caused by contaminated water and cholera. Hygiene courses for hospital employees and in communities offer information on health risks caused by inappropriate hygiene practices. Since 2015, to improve the current food security and due to long drought periods in the last two years that have exacerbated hunger and malnutrition especially in poorer parts of the population, they have been helping families plant small gardens and have fostered improved nutrition habits. Additional cash support since 2016 has been helping particularly affected families buy basic foodstuffs and essential goods.

  • Jestina Pellu is 38 years old and raises her three children on her own

    Photo: Johanniter

Zimbabwe: Background of the Forgotten Humanitarian Crisis

The crisis in Zimbabwe is closely connected to the persona of its president Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country since 1987. Though he might at first have been considered a reformer, at the latest by the turn of the century he has become a dictator. As a result, and in part due to mismanagement, corruption, and his so-called “fast track land reform”, landowners have been massively expropriated, leading to crop shortfalls and famine. In addition, Mugabe has systematically been oppressing any form of opposition – a fact that not even the oppositional leader Morgan T. Tsvangirai, who was prime minister from 2011 to 2013, could change. In addition, the number of HIV patients is dramatically high in Zimbabwe. Nearly 30,000 people die each year from the autoimmune disease – the highest rate worldwide. Put together, poverty, disease and political oppression have led many well-educated people such as doctors to leave the country, which has been worsening the situation even further.