By Duncan Mlanjira
International charitable organization, Malawi Relief Fund UK has distributed relief items to over 300 families in Mangochi District that were affected by strong winds due to heavy rains that affected their communities some weeks ago.
The strong winds wreaked havoc in three areas that were greatly affected — Makawa, Lutende and Chiponde — rendering hundreds of families helpless and Malawi Relief Fund UK distributed food parcels containing maize flour, rice, beans, Likuni Phala, salt, sugar as well as plastic sheeting roll items.
Malawi Relief Fund UK country coordinator Yakub Valli said this year’s rainy period, from the onset, has been characterized by strong winds alongside violent rainfall resulting into destruction of dwelling houses, prayer houses and classroom blocks.
“Over 400 households need help in Mangochi as houses have been destroyed by strong winds and according to the information made available, about 437 houses including school blocks have had their roofs blown off in three Traditional Authorities, namely Jalasi, Namavi and Mponda.
“The strong winds affected many houses, mostly grass thatched while those with iron sheets had their roofs blown off and walls collapsed,” he said.
He added that they had to come in because they are also helping the communities in several social development projects.
Valli said Malawi Relief Fund UK felt it duty bound to respond to the situation with the relief items after learning that many of the families affected are in dire need of support.
‘’The affected families have now become homeless and very poor considering that the incident has taken place at a time when most of them are reeling in hunger,’’ Valli said.
He further said that he is very grateful for the wonderful contribution made by the donors of Malawi Relief Fund UK, who teamed up to solicit the support in UK for this purpose.
Fatima Issa, 58, a farmer from Kandende Village in Senior Chief Jalasi said her house was completely destroyed by the heavy winds.
‘’My house was completely wrecked down by heavy winds, it was a nightmare,’’ Issa said.
Mangochi Masongola Member of Parliament, Ishmael Grant said the situation is very serious as those whose houses have been blown off are in need of shelters.
‘’Indeed, we have had strong winds around Chiponde area where a number of roofs of houses were blown off and that we have lost structures of two school blocks at Kwiputi and Changwale primary schools as their roofs were blown off.
“There are many victims looking for shelter and they can’t even find such at these schools,’’ he said.
Grant added that the Area Development Committee (ADC) has submitted the report of the incident to the department of disaster management to intervene.
He noted that the disaster is likely to affect lessons in the affected schools as the challenge has come at a time when the schools mentioned already don’t have enough classrooms and that textbooks have also been destroyed.
Mangochi Lutende MP, Edrissa Pongolani Kazembe expressed his gratitude for the timely donation from Malawi Relief Fund UK, saying the support will enable the affected families have food as well as have the energy to repair their houses.
Pongolani is appealing to the general public to provide the victims with more relief food items that can help sustain the affected households as well support to maintain the destroyed houses and iron sheets for the roofs of the school blocks.
‘’We need more support in terms of either food items, plastic sheeting rolls as well as textbooks for the learners in the affected schools,’’ Pongolani said.
Malawi Relief Fund UK has since its establishment worked towards lessen sufferings of many Malawians and amongst its projects include in agriculture, housing, bicycle ambulance and water provision though drilling of boreholes.
It also provides gift of sight, sponsors needy students through IZF, winterwarmth, orphanage, empowering youth and women through vocational skills including bicycles and fish boats and meat distribution.
In January this year, MRF-UK partnered with Malawi Special Olympics in a programme which is reaching out to primary schools that enroll special needs learners to facilitate health screening exercises.
Malawi Special Olympics reaches out to schools in more than 24 districts in Malawi in conjunction with Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare.
In November last year, MRF-UK partnered with Islamic Zakaat Fund (IZF) by investing over K900 million over a period of 4 years to provide financial support for 224 underprivileged Malawian students to complete higher tertiary education in various universities and colleges across the country.
MRF-UK also funds Shukran Orphan Care Centre in Zomba.