Malawi, Mulanje: a year after Cyclone Freddy, the Community of Sant'Egidio inaugurates two houses for the elderly

On Earth Day, the Community of Sant'Egidio inaugurates two houses for the elderly in Malawi. They were rebuilt after the devastating Cyclone Freddy in 2023. This concrete initiative testifies the commitment of Sant'Egidio in countering climate change and protecting the most vulnerable.

Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated every 22 April to raise awareness of the importance of protecting our planet. The anniversary takes on an even greater importance this year, especially in areas such as Southern Africa, where the effects of climate change have become more and more dramatic.
Indeed, the region has been battered by a series of extreme weather events in recent years, among them devastating cyclones and prolonged periods of drought. In 2019, Cyclone Idai caused immense damage and suffering in Mozambique, and just a few weeks ago, a tropical storm flooded Maputo, the country's capital.
Malawi has also been severely affected by the effects of climate change. Last year, floods in the south of the country added to a severe drought in other areas, prompting the government to declare a state of national disaster in 23 of the country's 28 districts ahead of a poor harvest. In March 2023, Cyclone Freddy brought death and destruction to Malawi, claiming over 500 lives and displacing 500,000 people.

What Sant'Egidio has been doing in Malawi

Since the first emergencies caused by Cyclone Freddy, Sant'Egidio has mobilised and provided assistance to the affected populations. The Community has delivered emergency aid, distributed food, set up mobile clinics and given shelter to about a hundred displaced people in its own facilities. 
At Easter 2023, all the Communities of Sant'Egidio around the world donated to a collection for the victims of Cyclone Freddy, making it possible to continue to assist the most vulnerable population groups in the months following the event, when international attention waned.
As part of a long-term reconstruction effort, we started the construction of two houses in the Mulanje district, one of the hardest hit by the cyclone. The houses, officially opened in April 2024, are now home to four elderly people, two women and two men, who had lost their homes due to the natural disaster.
The construction of the houses was made possible thanks to the generosity of Sant'Egidio supporters and the valuable work of members of the Mulanje Community. Their members actively participated in the realisation of the buildings. A concrete example of solidarity and collaboration that shows how, even in the face of immense challenges such as climate change, it is possible to build a better future for everyone.

The two houses in Mulanje are a small but significant sign of Sant'Egidio's love and dedication to the frail elderly and its commitment to protecting their dignity and spreading a culture of respect and welcome.