Malawi (MNN) — Aid is finally arriving in Malawi, where communities were cut off by the country’s worst floods in half a century.
So far, over 170,000 people have been displaced, while an estimated 116,000 households have lost their crops and livestock.
In neighboring Mozambique, there were 11,000 homes destroyed and 88 fatalities. The one-two punch of Cyclones Bansi and Sedza and Tropical Storm hit Madagascar, Malawi, and Mozambique three weeks ago. In one day, a months’ worth of rain fell on the previously drought-stricken region.
But for Malawi, one of the poorest countries of the world, the tragedy is beyond devastating. Baptist Global Response Executive Director Jeff Palmer says, “We’re still looking at several months of recovery to even get back to where they were, which was fairly impoverished to begin with. So pray for the people; they’ve got a long couple of months coming up.”
Malawi is no stranger to food shortages. Palmer explains, “You’re looking at homes that are destroyed–and not just homes, but they lost their stores of food like maize and rice and things like that. We’re doing several distributions in Malawi, Madagascar, and Mozambique.”
A global aid call fell on deaf ears. “It’s just not high on the radar. People will just look at this and say, ‘Well, they’re just floods.’ But they’re not just floods. These are larger than they’ve experienced.” Headlines throughout North America focused on ISIS killings, global economics, blizzards, and big sporting events. Little-to-no mention of the disaster made notice. As a result, the money to respond through the bigger Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) just isn’t there. Palmer says, “Because a lot of the big funding has not come in, we’re actually addressing those immediate needs of some food, plastic tarps, and things like that.”
Baptist Global Response (BGR) and International Mission Board (IMB) personnel rushed aid to vital areas, delivering food and supplies to families with critical needs across southern Africa. “What a beautiful demonstration: the body of Christ, locally making a difference in their community, helping with food, shelter, blankets, and even seeds to get that started again.”
Even as the water recedes, villages in Malawi and Mozambique are cut off due to flooded roads. That’s why neighbors helping neighbors works, notes Palmer. “The response that we’re able to do with Baptist Global Response is through the local Church and through some partners like International Mission Board missionaries who are out there on the ground, national pastors, and churches who are actually the front-line relief workers.”
Palmer goes on to say these efforts often translate into more. “It’s just a great way to make the Church relevant in their community, to share the Gospel, to help people, and to impact lives for eternity.”