I am in Malawi, assessing the impact of the disastrous flood on our water programmes in the region and working out how best we can help, both right now and in the longer term. As many of you know, The One Foundation has had a long-term commitment to Malawi, with £3m of our funds supporting more than 300 water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) programmes, and providing clean water to one million people. It is with great sadness that we watch the current crisis in Malawi unfold. The below are some thoughts from my time in Malawi today…
In the midst of tragedy, comes hope – even for 5 adults and 5 children and a dog who clung to a termite mound for three days in the floods, only to have their dog taken by a crocodile and wondering who would be next. Not sleeping for three days. Not eating or drinking. Just living in fear.
In the midst of chaos of camps housing over 170,000 people who have lost their homes, their farms, their crops and everything they possessed, comes hope that they will rebuild their lives when the waters recede.
In the midst of tonnes of food being air-dropped into communities unreachable by road, comes hope that they will soon be able to get back to normality.
For the priest who housed a community in his church until they were waist deep in water and left minutes before the church collapsed, they believe they were saved by divine intervention.
For people who sat on top of their houses until the police arrived in a boat to rescue them, for the boat with 16 people in it that capsized and everyone drowned, for the teacher and his wife and children that clung to a tree only to drown before they could be rescued
For the people who sheltered in their homes during 3 days of rain, only to have the walls collapse on them, to move to neighbours, only to have it happen again.
The damage here is widespread.
After the international community withdrew their funding of the Malawian Government in 2003, meaning the government lost 40% of its entire $1bn operating budget, it meant that they were no longer able to respond to any kind of crisis other than with one helicopter and a few boats. The NGOs have stepped in and that took, and still is, taking time.
But the people still have hope.
A closing thought for the day as I try to process some of the things I’ve seen and heard today. These people have nothing, no savings, no clothing, live stock, no crops, no reserves. How do you start again when you don’t have enough money to buy a saucepan let alone replant crops, build a house, furnish it or feed your kids?
Thanks for reading.
Ps. If you would like to give extra support to help those affected by these recent events, please go to our Just Giving page to make a donation. £15 will provide assistance as detailed above to a household of 5-6 people.