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After Tropical Cyclone Idai a Light Shines in the Darkness

1906 konzalendo thumbThree months on after Tropical Cyclone Idai ravaged through South Eastern Africa to become one of the deadliest storms ever recorded to hit the Southern Hemisphere, a light has begun to shine in Konzalendo and the surrounding areas that were affected by the Cyclone. In God’s Providence the Jesuits from the Zambia/Malawi Province invited the Religious Sisters of Charity to partner with them in responding to the effects of Cyclone Idai in Southern Malawi.

Our focus is on Konzalendo and the neighbouring areas which nobody seems to be reaching out to.

On Easter Tuesday Sisters Mary Zimba, Namangolwa Liamunga and Pereka Nyirenda set out for Konzalendo to bring food stuffs, clothes, blankets and monies that had been donated by the Jesuits and their associates, our communities in Lusaka and the pupils at Roma Girls Secondary School.

In the weeks that followed that visit, thanks to the donation from the Jesuits, the sisters in Konzalendo were again a beacon of light. They brought joy and hope to the people as they were able to buy and distribute 1000 bags of Maize and 100 blankets as an immediate response to the dire situation the people were in. As part of the effort to help people recover from the loss of their crops during the Cyclone, Maize and Vegetable seeds were also distributed. Konzalendo is blessed with two rainy seasons. This will help the people begin to recover from the food deficit currently being experienced.

In the long term the Congregation will be working on a three year programme in partnership with the Jesuit Centre for Ecology and Development in Lilongwe and Caritas Malawi in Chikwawa. The programme is aimed at building community resilience among the people of Konzalendo so that they will be in a less vulnerable situation should a climate related disaster hit the area again. The programme will involve among other things, helping 60 of the most vulnerable people in the area rebuild their houses using environmentally friendly bricks, encouraging tree planting, workshops on land use planning, production and promotion of energy efficient stoves/braziers, raising environmental/ecological awareness, diversifying the people’s sources of income, promoting Sustainable Agricultural methods, promoting various skills training and building the community’s capacity to be drivers of their own development agenda.

Indeed out of the darkness caused by Cyclone Idai, the light of solidarity and good will has shone. The amount of resources currently being channelled to Konzalendo might never have been channelled there had it not been for the disaster caused by Cyclone Idai. Over the last 8 years, the Sisters in Konzalendo have worked tirelessly to serve the people and help improve their situation. The programme to be implemented will be building on the many initiatives already started. The Cyclone has also given the Congregation the opportunity to bring other skills and resources into Konzalendo through our collaboration and partnership with Caritas Malawi, The Jesuit Centre for Ecology and Development (JECD) and the “Beyond Cyclone Idai” project which the Congregation are a part of and is being coordinated by the Jesuits. At a meeting held in Lilongwe with JECD, everyone echoed the same desire, to make a difference in the lives of the people of Konzalendo. May God help us make this desire a reality AMDG.