To our dear friends,
As generous supporters of Msizi Africa, we are devastated to have to make this announcement. In the last 13 years there have been ups and downs in relation to fundraising, but never like this. The Covid 19 lockdown has damaged our ability to fundraise and we risk losing up to 80% of our income. This means we have to make difficult decisions to save the charity. While it has always been our vision to close the charity, the time has not yet come.
That might sound like a strange vision, but we don’t want to be here in London, responsible for feeding children in Lesotho. We want to enable Basothos to feed their own children. We want an exit; an income generating project with longevity; something that will start with seed funding from Msizi Africa in the UK, then far outgrow us and leave us behind. Our colleagues in Lesotho are wholly responsible for their own future and that of the children, and subsequently for the exit strategy. They have chosen a Milk Project, and our Trustees are in full agreement that this is the way forward. Milk is our biggest single expenditure and the most nutritious element of the children’s diet so it should be central in our activity going forward.
The issue is, it takes time to start a Milk Project and time has run out. We don’t have the money to feed our children and set this project up. We have enough funds in the bank to feed our children until the end of 2020 before Msizi Africa would have to close. This is why we have had to make a very difficult decision in the short term, to save (and expand) operations in Lesotho in the long term.
We provide the children’s only guaranteed food. The hunger we have rescued them from and the malnutrition that damaged their little bodies, is detrimental to their development and often irreversible. It’s been incredibly upsetting breaking the news to the families, and the five staff who are now unable to provide for their own families. How do you make such a difficult decision? We ranked the villages in order of vulnerability with criteria including the age of the children, the availability of food sources including distance from town, prevalence of HIV and the presence of adult carers.
1. We are closing our programme in Majapareng. This is the village we’ve been in the longest. The children there are older and better able to survive this. We have invested in a small scale chicken project to provide them with an income to fund food two days a week. Our direct financial involvement will stop at the end of July.
2. We are closing our programme in Ha Mahase at the end of August. The children are older and like in Majapereng, better able to survive this. Unfortunately, there is not the knowledge or skill base to have an income generating project, so this programme cannot continue in any way. We are leaving the village with vital infrastructure to operate a feeding programme so if they find food, they will be able to operate on an ad hoc basis.
3. We will continue with the three remaining villages which we can afford to feed in until September. There are many very young children and the first 1000 days of their lives are critical in terms of their long term health. Hunger and malnutrition at an early age is a devastating start in life. This is why they have been prioritised over other needy children, but the future of these three villages depends entirely on our ability to fundraise until the Milk Project becomes profitable.
4. In the meantime we are starting the pilot of the Milk Project; buying two cows when the border with South Africa opens, meanwhile land (that has been loaned to keep the pilot costs low) is being prepared and secured.
We owe a huge debt of thanks to our incredible colleagues who have taken a voluntary pay freeze, even though their salaries could never adequately compensate them for the utterly selfless long hours they commit to improving the lives of the children.
Although we aim to have Msizi Africa Lesotho standing on its own two feet as soon as possible, we still welcome income in the form of direct debits, ad hoc donations and event attendance. We will never turn down a donation even after the Milk Project becomes profitable. This is because we want to move to the position of being a Grant Maker offering support to further facilitate income generation projects which could expand and diversify to other agricultural areas. This will enable more children to be fed in the long term.
If you have any questions or concerns as to the path that we have chosen, I would be delighted to discuss them with you. For Msizi Africa to have done its job well, we really should no longer be here – but when there is a risk of that happening too early and without an exit plan, it’s time to make urgent changes so we exit in the right way at the right time.
Please keep donating at www.justgiving.com/msiziafrica and if you have any questions please contact me at [email protected]
All our very best wishes,
Because of the covid 19 lockdown, we have been unable to fundraise which has resulted in a significant drop in our income. We are very sad to announce that we have to cut the number of villages we feed in from five to three, with the very painful reality that 57 children will now go without food every day. It is their only lifeline and one which we never, ever wanted to cut. We are truly sorry for the devastating impact this will have on the children.