Thanks for the personal messages we have received over the past few weeks. Our family is fine. Blantyre, the city we live in, is very close to the impact area but is much higher and therefore not subject to the same long term flooding. The amount of rain we received had an effect on us, but we are doing well now. Blair has been trying to help his colleagues and friends while Vivian has been actively involved in relief efforts.
A few things are certainly true:
- Mozambique and Zimbabwe have been devastated because the cyclone gained strength the second time round.
- Malawi has continued to have intermittent rains that have hampered efforts but have not added substantially to the problem. The death toll has risen slightly but now it is long term problems (e.g. cholera and lack of food and shelter) that are a risk.
- Rapid response based on local resources and efforts has been substantial in Malawi (although not as much as in Zimbabwe).
- Longer term, 3 months and out, plans have started with coordination across the three countries.
There continue to be problems that lack the drama of Beira but are hard nevertheless. For instance, a dam on Zomba Plateau, a beautiful mountain that shadows Zomba and therefore Zomba Theological College and TEEM administrative offices, is in danger of breaking. It isn’t the largest reservoir on the mountain, but the warning is still serious. The banner picture is of some men at a pit mill on Zomba. While I have no evidence yet, I’m sure that part of the problem with the reservoir is that the trees on the Plateau have been cut down and therefore heavy rains do not have any where else to go.
Donating: Vivian’s work is supported by the Presbyterian Church in Canada. She works at Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD) where she is the only non-Malawian staff member (out of about 90). CARD has done extensive aid work in Malawi, both in terms of long-term development and relief projects. It has people on the ground who live in the communities and who know all of the key players. They are an efficient organization that translates your donation into direct action. When you donate to Presbyterian World Service & Development for this relief effort, your donation goes to the ACT Alliance, a consortium of over 145 faith-based organizations including CARD. Actually, when you donate through a number of channels, including the United Church of Canada, you are donating to the ACT Alliance. Through the ACT Alliance, CARD and other ACT Alliance partners in Mozambique and Zimbabwe will receive your donation. At the moment, CARD is a key player in a coordinated relief effort by several ACT Alliance implementing partners in all three countries.
Someone asked if World Vision or other places are good to donate to. While there are some better or worse options, the need is very great and so we would encourage you to donate. The choice between World Vision and no donation is easy for us: donate. If you are most comfortable with World Vision, then go for it. They have a strong presence here in Malawi and do good work. We obviously prefer you donate to CARD through the ACT Alliance but would never discourage helping Malawi.