In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, GFA pastor Yaphet and other GFA missionaries have marched to the fringes of society to bring help and hope to people in despair, people such as Callon and Sada. Their most demanding adversary? Hunger.
Fear of starvation drove Callon to take on debt they couldn’t afford and drove Sada to forage in the forest for food. They were desperate, for themselves and for their young daughters, to survive.
Laboring to Survive
Before the pandemic, Callon and Sada worked multiple jobs to earn a humble income that would provide for their two young daughters. With no land of their own, Callon worked as a daily laborer. Sometimes he left home for months at a time to earn a better living in the city as a construction worker. Other times he worked at a local brick kiln two or three times a week. When his earnings at the kiln weren’t enough, he’d travel four miles to the forest to collect firewood. He would then haul the firewood more than six miles to the market in a neighboring village to sell his load for less than $3.
Sada also contributed to the family’s income, but her job as a field worker was only seasonal. When the planting or harvesting season ended, so did the opportunity for income.
Still, the family was content and happy. Their girls regularly attended school, and their needs were met.
A Devastating Blow
Then the COVID-19 pandemic shook their world, as it did the world of many others around the globe. Many governments instituted various levels of lockdowns in an effort to curb the virus’ spread. Millions lost their jobs as “the ongoing crisis . . . disrupted labor markets around the world at an unprecedented scale,” says the World Economic Forum.
The effect was particularly devastating among the world’s poor—such as daily wage laborers like Callon and Sada—in the developing countries of Asia and Africa. These workers often live below the poverty line and commonly struggle to feed their families. They and other groups, such as women and those who have little to no education, were more likely to immediately lose their jobs.
Callon abruptly had no way to provide for his family. He, like many others, had little to no savings to fall back on. The blow left scores of families reeling financially, pushing at least 97 million additional people into poverty.
In many areas, shops closed and travel became restricted, adding to the difficulties in attaining food. Travel restrictions prevented Callon from going to the city, where he had previously earned twice as much as working at the local brick kiln. Construction had ceased anyway. The brick kiln closed, offering no work or income. He couldn’t even sell firewood—he wasn’t allowed to go to the forest, and the market was closed.
Schools closed. With no mobile phone or internet access, Callon and Sada’s daughters could not partcipate in online learning. They could no longer feed their minds, and Callon and Sada struggled to feed their daughters’ bellies.
What was he to do? He couldn’t just let his family starve.
“We didn’t have any food at home, and those days my husband was not able to earn money and bring food home. … That happened several times … And even right now we are going through that difficulty.”
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SOURCE; Assist News | Gospel For Asia