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November 19 2015 | BLANTYRE, MALAWI

Hope and solidarity between generations: there is a new home for the elderly of Blantyre

The concrete sign of a year of mercy that opens also for Malawi #mercychristmas

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 In Malawi, the condition of many old people is of extreme poverty and neglect. They are often accused of witchcraft, threatened, ill-treated. Sometimes intolerance explodes up to burn and destroy their homes. Recently in Thyolo, a village near Blantyre, an old man was killed after being accused of practising witchcraft.

The friendship of many young people of the Community of Sant'Egidio with the elderly in many neighbourhoods and villages of Malawi is a defense of their lives and at the same time preaching of love that helps people to look to the elderly with different eyes, to respect them and help them.

In recent months, the elderly have been affected by the famine that has struck much of the country following the floods that destroyed crops of corn and houses. Currently to buy 50 kg of maize it is necessary to pay 8,500.00 Kwacha, twice the amount of 6 months ago. The Communities of Malawi have mobilised to help them so that they do not lack the necessary.

In Bangwe, a large township on the edge of the city of Blantyre, from today there is a visible sign of this friendship and protection. To answer the need for some old people that had lost everything during the last flood last February, a new house of reception was opened. The house consists of two apartments and a common area, it can give hospitality to several elderly as well as welcoming other during the day, to share lunch, offer shelter and combat loneliness and indifference. Homes for the elderly opened by the Community of Sant'Egidio are places of hope and solidarity between generations, a cultural challenge that Sant'Egidio wants to live in Malawi and across Africa.

The first elderly guests of the new house are a couple, Esther and Julio, Julio was born April 22, 1942 he met Esther when they were teenagers, they have lived together for almost 50 years. Esther was born in the early '40s, she can not remember the day and the year of his birth, she was orphaned when she was still a child. They had three children, two of them have died, probably of AIDS, there is only one son that does not assist them.

Julio and Esthe met the Community of Sant'Egidio in Bangwe in 2013. Their life had become difficult since Julio, tailor, had not been able to sew because of age and illness. They did not know how to continue, no longer they had the money to pay the rent of the house in which they lived, or to buy food to feed themselves. They tell about having always lived a life of abject poverty and deprivation. This year, the house in which they lived was destroyed by heavy rains that have affected the majority of Malawi. They had lost everything and they cried, this time for joy, on the day that they were invited to live in the house that the Community of Sant'Egidio has built for the elderly of Bangwe.

The third house guest is Ndasalapati, she was born in the early 40s in the district of Nsanje in southern Malawi. She had married and had 11 children. Unfortunately she lost her husband and nine of his children. She has not seen the two children, still alive, for years. She met the Community of Sant'Egidio in Bangwe, where she lived in a small hut, which was also nearly destroyed by heavy rains. When she was invited to come and live in the new house she revealed that her real nNdasalapati (meaning .... "what is left of me") was not her real name but that her real name is Zefia. Ndasalapati is the name that she had given herself and that everyone called her because of the great difficulties and abandonment she had known before meeting the Community.



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