After an initial three-month, emergency food distribution in response to Cyclone Freddy’s widespread destruction in Malawi, Mennonite Central Committee has committed to providing food assistance for an additional eight months.
Local churches of the Brethren in Christ, an Anabaptist denomination, are providing the assistance to 500 households, about 2,500 people, in the Mulanje District. This response is supported through MCC’s account at Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Mennonite World Conference.
The Mulanje District was hit particularly hard by Cyclone Freddy. The four-day storm brought devastating rain, floods and mudslides in March, killing more than 1,400 people and displacing nearly 500,000. Infrastructure like roads, healthcare facilities, farms and schools were heavily damaged, severely affecting the livelihoods of those who were able to remain and making it hard for relief to be delivered.
All the people MCC is supporting lost their homes to the deluge, with more than half seeing their crops or livestock entirely wiped out, leaving nothing to harvest and nothing to provide any income for the next year.
Eldon Wagler, MCC representative for Zambia and Malawi, says the collaboration between MCC, local BIC churches and staff of the Malawi BIC’s relief and development arm, Compassion and Development Services, has had a significant benefit to the people of the Mulanje District.
“Often it is very difficult to get to an area that’s just experienced a disaster, but within a week of Cyclone Freddy making landfall, MCC and BIC-CODES personnel were present in Mulanje,” Wagler said. “Their intimate knowledge of the area and the people, combined with their experience in relief situations, enabled MCC-funded relief supplies to reach those who’d been affected as quickly as possible.”
In September, MCC sent a shipment of 3,000 handmade comforters, 1,000 relief kits and 1,760 school kits to those affected by the cyclone.
In an act of spiritual support for this project, Pastor Dave Miller of New Joy Church, a BIC church in Ephrata, Pa., joined the team at MCC’s East Coast Material Resources Center in Ephrata, helping load the shipping container and praying over the container during its final preparations.