Resilience Amidst Disaster: Amber’s Malawi Diary

“There’s an incredible sense of community amongst the residents of this camp. They share what little they have and prepare meals together. But they need homes – urgently.”

 

Author: Amber woods
My name is Amber and I work as Head of Partnerships for Habitat for Humanity Great Britain. Recently, I travelled to Malawi to check in on some of the projects that are helping to change the lives of residents who have been impacted by Tropical Cyclone Freddy.
My trip had a profound effect on me – the strength and resilience of the women I met is awe-inspiring, but their need for support is undeniable.

 

Meeting Felesta

As I step into the searing heat of Namchidwa, a small rural village near Mulanje, Malawi, I can still feel the lingering effects of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which wreaked havoc on this community just over a year ago. The devastation is palpable, yet amidst the rubble and makeshift shelters, there is resilience, hope, and a spirit of determination.

It’s not long before I encounter Felesta (pictured below), a 90-year-old grandmother who embodies strength in the face of adversity.

Sitting outside her dilapidated tent, Felesta warmly welcomes me, her smile belying the hardships she has endured. She shares her story with me, recounting how Cyclone Freddy swept through their village, leaving destruction in its wake.

She shoulders the responsibility of caring for her three grandchildren after their mother passed away from an AIDS-related illness.

For several months, Felesta and her grandchildren have called this tent their home. Nights are spent on hard ground, enduring sweltering heat in the day, and cold temperatures at night.

 

Felesta in Malawi - Spring Appeal 2024

 

Making it happen

But next to Felesta’s tent, I witness the immense power of community and collaboration as construction of several Habitat for Humanity homes is taking shape.

Felesta will soon receive one of these new homes. With each brick laid, each beam raised, Felesta and her grandchildren are one step closer to a safe and secure place to call home.

“I was speechless when I found out Habitat for Humanity would be able to help me. The joy is overwhelming! I send blessings to everyone who is making this happen,” Felesta tells me.

But Felesta’s story is sadly not unique.

As I visit the nearby Namchidwa Refugee Camp, I meet Crissy (pictured below), a mother who has lost everything to Cyclone Freddy. She’s now living in a tent with her daughter, Siphiwe (aged 7), and son, Chikumbutso (aged 12). The inside of their tent is tiny. There’s a few bags of clothes, a couple of blankets, and a mosquito net hung from the roof. Selflessly, at night, Crissy sleeps outside of the tent so that there’s more room for her children to sleep.

There’s an incredible sense of community amongst the residents of this camp. They share what little they have and prepare meals together. But they need homes – urgently.

 

Crissy and her daughter in Malawi - Spring Appeal 2024

 

More work to do

Last year, we, at Habitat for Humanity Great Britain, helped over 800,000 people, but we have so much more work to do.

As I bid farewell to Felesta and the Habitat for Humanity team on the ground in Malawi, I’m filled with a sense of gratitude. I can’t help but wonder what on earth would have happened to people like Felesta and her grandchildren if we weren’t able to be here.

But I also know, we must find a way to help those still awaiting a decent home. And we can only do that through the generosity of our supporters who make all our work possible.

There are still countless families in need of assistance, still countless lives waiting to be transformed. With your continued support, we can make a lasting impact, empowering communities to rebuild and thrive.

Thank you for being a part of this journey. Thank you for believing in the power of hope and community. Together, we can make it happen—for Felesta, for Crissy, and for countless others in need around the world.

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