Just before what was promising to be a strong harvest, heavy rains and widespread flooding swept through southern Malawi. Cyclone Idai cut off access, destroyed infrastructure, wiped away crops, caused loss of life and affected over two million people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Following the initial response by the Malawi government and other disaster response agencies we completed an assessment of the families we support through our outreach programme. Our initial assessment was conducted by Kondwani and Mrs Phiri (read our initial blog post here), they reported that communities are suffering serious hardship. Stored food supplies were destroyed, many houses were not habitable and infection was a serious concern.
They visited each of our families in the affected areas to give advice and basic essentials where needed. The team made recommendations to Open Arms for additional support where needed and our fundraising effort was launched.
Thanks to your help we have raised over £18,000. This has provided extra support to the families on our outreach programme who have taken in an additional child from Open Arms.
We have completely rebuilt four houses for the families of Kefasi and Atupele who live up near Mangochi and for Chisomo and Myankho who live near Blantyre. Without a new home, these children would have nowhere safe to live and would be very vulnerable. This has given them a secure family home and allowed their guardians to focus on getting enough food to eat and providing care for their children.
We have installed new, more robust roofing to the houses of Daniel and Newswell, who both returned home recently near Blantyre. The new structures are less susceptible to damage and enable their families to use their own money for buying food and providing care for their children.
We have purchased ten tonnes of Maize and Likuni Phala. Some of this has been distributed to families in affected regions as well as others on our outreach programme. We will continue to give this out until next April so it can help protect children’s nutrition over the longer term and provide food at what would otherwise be a very difficult time for families affected by the floods.
We have provided basic medicines and essentials like mosquito nets, clothing and water tablets as part of our outreach support. These are essential in helping avoid preventable problems like anemia or malaria and they give some of the very basics that every family needs to provide for their children.
As part of our response, we have stepped up our outreach work to provide more visits and support to the families that need additional help because of Cyclone Idai. We will continue to monitor and support the children that we have returned home through our Matron’s community visits.
We will continue to work with communities to keep up to date with any problems and we will continue to offer advice, support, food and ongoing monitoring where it is needed as families get back on their feet.
Support for children like Atupele
Atupele stayed at Mangochi infant home when she was born following the death of her mother. She returned home as a healthy toddler and is now 12 years old and in year 5 at a local school. Her elder sister, Hilda, is a farmer and also her carer.
Hilda works to support her own two year old child from a dysfunctional marriage and she cares for Atupele aswell. They live in Manjawira village, which is 74 km from the Mangochi Infant Home and very remote.
Their house had a grass thatched roof and was built with un-burnt bricks and following the cyclone, was in a very unsafe state due to the heavy rains. Part of the house collapsed during the rains, and the remaining walls were an immediate threat to their lives so our Matron recommended them for immediate support. (You can read our blog post initial blog post about Atupele here.)
Building work started in June and Atupele and her sister now have a completely rebuilt and much more secure home thanks to Open Arms. This has given her a new lease of life after moving back and they are very excited to own what she refers to as a magnificent house.
Atupele is working extremely hard at school, she is proud of her handwriting and her emerging independence. She passed her end of school year exams as top of her class so is a credit to the care her sister has given her. Hilda, her elder sister told us that ‘Atupele is a very quiet girl, very cooperative and assists with household chores. Atupele Jolomo experiences a great sense of responsibility.’
By providing the family with a secure and safe home, they are able to concentrate on looking after themselves, rebuilding their lives, getting enough food and continuing with school. We have been able to do this thanks to the help of our supporters and for that we’d like to say a huge thank you!