Alliance between youth and elderly, friendship in prison: two central commitments of the Community in Malawi and Marco Impagliazzo's visit

Visits to family homes for the elderly and street children and to the prison

On the morning of 1 July, a delegation of Sant'Egidio went to Mulanje prison, where the local Community has been regularly visiting the more than 600 inmates for several years now. The prisoners themselves and some prison guards have recently started to gather together to pray. Mulanje Prison is located in a vast area of southern Malawi that is often hit by cyclones and rainstorms. The living conditions for prisoners are often critical and precarious. Overcrowding is one of the biggest problems at the prison, which now has twice as many inmates as it can hold. Sant'Egidio has donated a water system to the prison to run toilets, grow food and supply the prison with drinking water.

The Community has also set up a training facility where inmates can work as carpenters and tailors. The prison's inmates are very young and it is not uncommon for their sentence to be prolonged due to inadequate legal assistance. The faithful visit to the prisoners, with the School of the Gospel meeting and prayer, is a sign of hope for every prisoner that life can fully begin again once their sentence is over.

"...I was imprisoned and you visited the stars that light up the sky, so Saint Egidio guides our lives..."- said a representative of the detainees in his greeting.

 After the devastating damage caused by Cyclone Freddy in 2023, Sant'Egidio built two houses in Mulanje, which now welcome four lonely elderly people whose homes had been destroyed. The two new houses are a visible sign of solidarity and social reconstruction and underline the value of the alliance between young and old in a country where the elderly are often marginalised.

Marco Impagliazzo's journey went on to visit the family homes for street children opened by Sant'Egidio in Malawi. A home in Blantyre welcomes twelve girls, so they can resume their studies and learn a job. The older girls attend a sewing workshop, where they make their own clothes and uniforms for the pupils of a nearby school. More recently, a woman with six girls was welcomed into a new house, Elena's Home, donated by a family from Genoa in memory of their daughter who died in an early age.

Marco Impagliazzo inaugurated a new house in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, which shelters three street children, aged between 5 and 10, who have been reintegrated into school and accompanied in their school rehabilitation by the Youth for Peace, with the help of the local Community.