Church in Malawi continues to aid cyclone survivors

Nine months after Cyclone Idai hit parts of Malawi, leaving 87,000 homeless, the Malawi United Methodist Church is continuing to distribute relief items to survivors in the Ntcheu District.

More than 1,000 households from seven villages received food, including maize flour, cooking oil, beans, sugar and salt.

Nancy Mulamusi from Chinyama Village lost family members and her crops to flooding after the cyclone. She said she also lost hope during those tough times.

“I have been suffering and this relief support will cover our survival for a while. It has been a tough time with my six children since my husband was injured and it has been hard for me to meet my family’s needs,” she said.

Cyclone Idai affected more than 3 million people when it roared through Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe on March 14, and more than 1,000 died.

In the weeks following the storm, the United Methodist Committee on Relief allocated three $10,000 grants for immediate, emergency short-term funding to meet basic human needs, including food, water and shelter, in the three countries.

The Rev. Daniel Mhone, Malawi Provisional Conference superintendent, said The United Methodist Church has been working alongside the Malawi government to provide relief in the months since.

“We are very quick to respond to disasters. We are grateful for the government for allowing our church to work with (it). We have brought different items in a package that will support a household,” Mhone said during a recent distribution ceremony in Mtumba Village.

He said the relief benefitted the entire community.

“We were all created in the image of God and when a challenge comes it does not choose. As The United Methodist Church, we dedicate ourselves to minister to all the people,” Mhone said.

Ntcheu Village Chief Enock Chiluzi said he was excited by the church’s efforts, but more support is needed.

 “A lot of people will be able to receive their relief packages. Unfortunately, a lot were affected and not all will be reached,” he said.

Chiluzi said he hopes the church will turn its focus to rebuilding efforts.

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Hebert Nkhoma with Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs said the Department for International Development estimates that it will take $370 million for Malawi to recover from the cyclone’s devastation.

Beatrice Phiri, Ntcheu District Commission representative, said she was grateful for the church’s support.

“The help has come on time where a lot of crops were washed away, leaving people with no hope on their harvest,” she said.

A large number of households in Ntcheu will suffer from severe hunger or have no food due to the loss of crops, she said, adding that the area needs an irrigation program and support with seeds and fertilizer to prepare for the current planting season.

According to UNICEF’s Nov. 11 situation report, the 2019 Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee annual report projects that 1,062,674 people in 27 districts are food insecure and will  require humanitarian assistance between now and March 2020.

Mhone highlighted support from U.S. and German partners, including the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, Hermitage United Methodist Church in Hermitage, Tennessee, and the Methodist Evangelical Church in Germany, which raised 16 million kwacha (more than $22,000 U.S.) to help support the people of Ntcheu District.

The Rev. Olav Schmidt, a United Methodist missionary from Germany who serves in Malawi, attended the ceremony to distribute relief packages. While the people of Malawi need help now, he said, he hopes in the future they have an opportunity to serve others.

“Today, we are here in Malawi serving you. Next time, in the years to come, I would love to see Malawi coming with an empty truck here in Ntcheu where every house shall come to fill it up with relief items to be given where there is need,” Schmidt said.

Nkhoma is a communicator for the Malawi Provisional Conference.

News media contact: Vicki Brown at 615-742-5470 or 
newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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