Zimbabwe: Solusi University
Food Supplies Dwindle
National food shortage could put students at risk.
BY ELIZABETH LECHLETINER, Adventist News Network
tudents at Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities in North America are raising funds to provide immediate assistance to a fellow university in Zimbabwe that church leaders say is running out of food.
Solusi University near Bulawayo, in the Southern part of Zimbabwe, is on the verge of sending students home due to the country's food crisis. Solusi's estimated 3,200 students, faculty, and staff--along with much of the country--have faced dwindling food supplies since February 2007, when hyperinflation and widespread droughts cleared the country's shelves and fields of food.
At a November 9 worship service, students, faculty, and staff at Andrews University (AU), in Michigan, started a fund for Solusi. AU has since matched the amount collected, and "ripple effect" collections on campus have added to the tally, organizers there say.
Other Adventist universities in North America--including Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California--are expected to join the effort, organized by leadership in the church's North American region. In a separate effort, La Sierra University Church also collected funds for Solusi.
"This has to be an ongoing effort," says Larry Blackmer, vice president for Education for the Adventist Church in North America. "Otherwise, Solusi will get a bunch of food in one load and none afterward." Blackmer anticipates the project will continue for six months to a year.
The first collection of funds, Blackmer says, has already been sent to the Zimbabwe Union headquarters in Bulawayo, where the money will be used to purchase food in Botswana, Mozambique, or South Africa and trucked across the border into Zimbabwe. University officials estimate US$120,000 would buy enough food in Zimbabwe's neighboring countries to sustain Solusi for a year.
Church leaders resorted to a similar solution in September, when the organizers of an Adventist youth training conference
brought food in from Botswana to feed the 350 delegates gathered in Zimbabwe for nearly a week.
Food supplies for Solusi have "been scarce for quite some time," according to the church in Zimbabwe. Reports from the university indicate that food, where available, is prohibitively expensive for those on Solusi salaries.
Fifty percent price cuts ordered by the Zimbabwean government in June to fight inflation have only accelerated the country's food crisis. Reports indicate the abrupt cuts spurred panic buying that drained already limited supplies.