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July 7 2014 | BLANTYRE, MALAWI

Time of anniversaries in Malawi: 50 years of independence and 15 with Sant'Egidio. Andrea Riccardi’s visit

The youth, the elderly, sick people with AIDS: a network of solidarity across the country that contributes to its development

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It was 6 July 1964 when the Nyasaland, then a British colony, became an independent country and took the name of Malawi. For 30 years, from the day of independence, Malawi has experienced a long and troubled path of approach to democracy, culminating in 1994 in the first democratic elections in which a few parties participated for the first time. The visit of founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio Andrea Riccardi, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of independence, was an opportunity to reflect on the future of the small African country, starting from the most significant historical events in its history.

The Community has been present in Malawi since 1999. During these fifteen years it has spread everywhere in the villages and cities and is now a network of solidarity and support involving more than ten thousand people. In Malawi, young people who are not yet 25 years old make up the majority of the population. On the other hand, schooling is still very low and insufficient. The prospects for study and work remain among the lowest in Africa. In this context, the movement of the Youth for Peace of the Community of Sant'Egidio, launched a few years ago, was a proposal and a vision of the future for many young Malawians. The movement, which now has more than 3,000 higher-school students, celebrated its first National Congress last April.

There are many signs of hope that help to look with confidence to the future of this country: the DREAM programme with its 18,000 AIDS patients currently receiving treatment, the friendship with many elderly people that has become increasingly widespread, reaching even those of the most isolated villages.

In Blantyre, Andrea Riccardi met the delegations of the 150 Communities in the country and participated in the liturgy of thanksgiving for the fifty years of peace in Malawi, which Sant'Egidio celebrated on 6 July, the Independence Day. It was also an opportunity to visit the place where the headquarters of the Community of Blantyre will soon rise. In the fifty years of the independent Malawi, the journey of fifteen years of Sant'Egidio is an important and significant trait in the history of the former British colony.

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