As every year, on 1st September, the community of Blantyre (Malawi) celebrated the feast of Sant’Egidio with the prisoners of Chichriri Prison, a huge detention centre which hosts more than 1 600 people.
For many years the members of the Community have regularly visited the prisoners, giving them food and body hygiene products; but also a friendly or hopeful word can bring some relief for their difficult life conditions.
So many stories and so many faces became significant while visiting people in the 13 Malawian prisons where members of the Community of Sant’Egidio regularly go.
A lot of the detainees have been awaiting trial for many years, without receiving any visit from their relatives, who often live in other parts of the Country.
In Malawi the life conditions in prison are very hard: often the cells are overcrowded, without any beds or toilets, in very bad hygienic conditions. For this reason often the prisoners suffer from skin diseases, but they have no possibility to be treated. There is not enough food and the detainees eat meat only once a week.
In these conditions, the friendship with the members of the Community becomes very precious, and for many of them it’s the only contact with the outside world.
Now the 1st of September has become an annual appointment which nobody wants to miss, while remembering Saint Giles, Sant'Egidio, a saint “friend” of the poorest.
For the occasion, the Community of Blantyre distributed sugar, soap, blankets and likuni phala (a very nutritious mush) for the children. A donation of sanitary material such as gloves, thermometers, medicine to cure malaria, plasters and bandages was given to the prison management.
At the end of the feast everybody was very happy, and grateful not to be forgotten.