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Aid to Africa: 'Where Is the Food?'

June 17, 2002

Your June 6 editorial, "Aid to Africa Can't Wait," quoted Mathabo Lekoatsa, wife of a Lesothan tribal leader, saying, "Talk, talk, talk. We hear a lot of words, but where is the food?" Prior to that tiny mountain kingdom's elections in May, the government petitioned the world community for $20 million for food to prevent the starvation of its population of 2 million people.

My religious congregation, the Sisters of the Holy Names, has worked among the Basotho people since 1931. All of our 85 members in Lesotho are Basotho women. During the months that I lived with them in 2000, these women told me that as long as the Basotho villagers could plant and harvest the corn, which cooked with water becomes papa, the staple food, no one would starve.

The Basotho crops have been ruined by a year of drought followed by unseasonal rains. The Basotho people face starvation if sufficient food aid is not sent immediately. Let us hope that the World Food Summit in Rome produces more food for Africa than "talk, talk, talk."

Jo'Ann De Quattro

Los Angeles

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