Malawi devastated by Cyclone Freddy needs food, medical care, shelter for the homeless. The plight of children

The deadly cyclone 'Freddy' hit Malawi, a small East African nation with an essentially agricultural economy, last week. It ripped through the country causing devastation, damage to infrastructure, houses and crops. A state of calamity has been declared, the hardest hit areas include the districts of Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Thyolo, Phalombe and Zomba. Schools have been closed and are now places of shelter for those who had to leave their homes. The death toll continues to rise and there are thousands of displaced people who have lost everything. Sant'Egidio in Malawi has about 400 communities in towns and villages as well as numerous centres of the DREAM programme, active since 2005.

Since the very first hours, the Malawian Communities of Sant'Egidio have been involved in bringing emergency aid to the most affected areas and in offering shelter to those who were left homeless (see news).
Sant'Egidio John Paul II's nutrition centre in Machinjiri, a hillside neighbourhood in Blantyre - where about 900 children receive their meals every day - is also sheltering around 100 people. It is one of the worst affected neighbourhoods - see photos - most of the houses were swept away by torrents of water or flattened to the ground by mud. The people of the Sant'Egidio have been hard at work these days looking for the children of the School of Peace, displaced by the flood. They have found many of them, some unfortunately left alone as their parents are still missing.
Some 50 people have taken refuge high up on the hill. They are about 50 minutes' walk from the city, in an impervious area, and have not received any help yet, except that of the Blantyre Youth for Peace, who climb up the hill every day and bring food, blankets, tablets to purify the water.
People who survived are in distress and recount how frightened they felt as the cyclone struck. The arrival of the flood of mud and water was preceded by a terrible noise, then huge stones fell from the mountain. The survivors witnessed their relatives and neighbours being swept away by the current. Some of them were swept away while trying to retrieve just a blanket, a pot or some food. There is a great need to listen, talk and comfort people.
Yet the situation is made even more dramatic because Cyclone Freddy arrived just before harvest time. It was a long-awaited harvest after a poor season of drought, with skyrocketing prices. Now everything has been lost! Corn, vegetables and other land products were destroyed, animals killed. Survivors can be seen in the muddy fields trying to salvage some unripe corn cobs so as to avoid the spectre of starvation.
The already poor people of Malawi do not have the capacity to respond with their own forces to such a large-scale catastrophe. Sant'Egidio plans to open a soup kitchen for the frail and complement the activities of the nutritional centre for children, and to set up mobile clinics  in order to reach displaced people and bring them health aid and medical care.
Only the solidarity of many will allow our relief work to continue.
To help you can donate by bank transfer
IBAN: IT36Q0200805074000060045279
Account holder: Comunità di S.Egidio-ACAP Onlus
Purpose: Cyclone Freddy