By Martha Phiri
In the heart of Southern Malawi, where devastation once painted the landscape, now thrives a spirit of resilience and unity. The monstrous fury of tropical cyclone Freddy had not just destroyed homes and lands across 16 of the country’s 28 districts; it had shattered dreams and hopes of nearly 700,000 residents whose homes were swept away by the floods. But amidst the rubble and the heartbreak, a beacon of hope shone – the Jesuit Centre for Ecology and Development (JCED) and their invaluable partners. Thanks to the support of faithful partners, our team in Malawi was prepared to respond quickly. We were able to get safe water flowing for families in need after the storm, serving nearly 10,000 people in the villages and in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs).
When March’s storm ravaged the villages of Phalombe and Chiradzulu, it wasn’t the devastation that lingered in memories but the overwhelming surge of support. With relentless commitment, JCED and its partners sprung into action, ensuring nearly 10,000 residents had access to clean water and reviving the community’s spirit. Efforts included drilling boreholes, establishing wells, fitting hand pumps, and repairing the damaged infrastructure.
For survivors like 22-year-old Alinafe, whose heart bore the heavy weight of loss, it was more than just the tangible aid that made a difference. Alinafe and her younger siblings lost both of their parents in the tempest and are now left as a child-headed household. “The disaster had taken more than our homes; it took away our hope. But when we were drowning in despair, the Jesuits and their collaborators extended their hands, quenching our thirst both physically and spiritually,” she recalls. https://youtu.be/tMdTdzyGVlA
Beyond the essential relief, JCED delved deeper, recognizing the need for emotional and spiritual healing. Their activities spanned from trauma healing sessions to training sessions for church leaders, touching the lives of over 7,000 villagers and displaced individuals. Alinafe’s voice is just one among thousands echoing gratitude, “Through JCED and Caritas Malawi, the Jesuits and their partners have been our pillars. They’ve given us more than just aid; they’ve given us solace, helping ease our burdens.”
The journey ahead is still long, and recovery from such vast devastation will undoubtedly take years. Yet, with the steadfast support of partners and the indomitable spirit of unity, the people of Malawi stand tall. They face the challenges ahead not with trepidation, but with a renewed sense of hope, faith, and a testament to the strength of human connection.
Martha Phiri is the Advocacy Officer for JCED