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Tzu Chi Kicks Off Cyclone Idai Relief Efforts in Malawi

Cyclone Idai devastated large swaths of Southeast Africa, killing hundreds and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Tzu Chi volunteers from South Africa promptly travelled to Malawi, a hard-hit country, to conduct disaster survey and to plan for relief efforts.

058Satellite image of Cyclone Idai as it made landfall on the east coast of Africa. (Image credit to NASA USA)

Cyclone Idai, which formed over Indian Ocean, made landfall on the coast of Southeast Africa overnight on 14th into 15th March, striking Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique. The storm, which was reported to be one of the Southern Hemisphere’s most devastating weather-related disasters, has killed hundreds of people, wiped out numerous homes, and inundated many cities in southeastern Africa.   

Disaster assessments have been launched in all the three countries by the Tzu Chi Foundation in Africa. And Tzu Chi volunteers from Durban, South Africa, have travelled to two communities in the suburbs of Blantyre, the capital of Malawi’s southern region, to provide assistance to the affected residents.

Timely help and support from South Africa

As Cyclone Idai swept across Southeast Africa, it brought torrential rains and caused catastrophic damage to large swaths of the region, before making a second landfall. Tzu Chi volunteers in Durban had originally scheduled their fourth relief mission in Malawi from 12th to 23rd March. After learning about the flood situation in the country, they proceeded with the trip, changing their charity drive to a disaster assessment mission.

The team of four Tzu Chi Durban volunteers set off their journey on 12th March, crossing the northern part of Zimbabwe and Mozambique before arriving in Malawi’s Blantyre in the early evening of 14th March. Veteran volunteers from South Africa, Pan Ming Shui and Zhou Xian Bin, took a flight to Malawi to join the team later.    

After journeying for more than 2,400 kilometers, Gladys Ngema and Confidence Shange, two elderly South African Tzu Chi volunteers, began guiding the young volunteers in Malawi in conducting home visits. They also purchased cornmeal with the cash they had brought and packed the flour into small bags to be distributed to the affected families.

059Tzu Chi Durban volunteers guiding some local volunteers in Malawi to pack cornmeal into smaller packets to be given to the disaster victims. (Photo provided by Tzu Chi South Africa volunteers)

From 16th March, Tzu Chi volunteers in Malawi actively extended their assistance and support to households affected by the cyclone. They followed the Durban team to Ching'ombe, a hard-hit community, to assess the disaster situation. On their way there, they saw that the mud roads had become quite fragile due to heavy rain.

After the volunteers arrived at Ching'ombe, they were assisted by Godfry Madukani, the local chief, to carry out disaster assessment from house-to-house. As the houses were located at a distance from one another, the volunteers had to traverse across hills and streams under the hot sun to visit each household.

On this day, Tzu Chi South Africa volunteers Pan Ming Shui and Zhou Xian Bin arrived at Blantyre in the afternoon to join the other volunteers, who had finished visiting 20 households. The following day, the team travelled to Ching'ombe once again to meet up with the local chief and explained to him the methods and principles of Tzu Chi’s disaster relief work. The volunteers said that Tzu Chi would be launching a cash-for-work relief programme, which would engage villagers to help with rebuilding 70 hazardous residences in the community.

060A victim of the cyclone beaming happily after receiving a packet of cornmeal distributed by Tzu Chi. (Photo provided by Tzu Chi South Africa volunteers)

Click to visit the Da Ai Headlines page to watch news updates on Tzu Chi’s Cyclone Idai relief efforts.


To support Tzu Chi’s relief operations in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique, click here to make a donation:www.tzuchi.org.sg/en/fundraising/send-love-to-africa/


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