Cyclone Freddy causes havoc in Malawi
At the start of 2023, Medical Missions in Malawi were very grateful to receive a donation from Esharelife Foundation, which had been matched by funds from the Society.
It saved lives in a country facing an outbreak of cholera. In February, meagre supplies of medicine for cholera patients had run out in the hospital in Blantyre where Medical Mission Sister Margaret Lupiya (known as Sister Maggie) works. Patients were being sent more than 25kms away to a government hospital for medical treatment - with no readily available transport.
The Esharelife donation came a real blessing! Without it, the medical staff in the hospital were unsure how they could have continued to care for patients with cholera. They had not been prepared for such an outbreak and government supplies of medicines were limited.
Last week, just as the disease was being brought under control in Malawi, Cyclone Freddy struck the country causing strong storms and floods and is exacerbating the risks of cholera. It is one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.
Sister Maggie reports that, in the wake of the storm, people came into the hospital wet, shivering, covered in mud and with all sorts of injuries. Most of them had been pulled out of the mud. Their villages and homes had gone, swept away by the flood water, leaving behind only mud, rocks and the dead. Mothers came to identify their dead children, children cried for their mothers. One child sobbed for her mother as Sister Maggie and the clinician were attending cuts on her face and head. They had been told that she had been carried away by the muddy water. The child could not be consoled. When the child's grandmother was identified in a female ward, quickly Sister Maggie carried the child to her grandmother. She stopped crying when she saw her in the bed and soon fell fast asleep, snuggling against her grandmother’s body for comfort. Sister Maggie writes, “What a joy this was to see in the midst of so much pain!”
Sister Maggie went on to praise the hospital staff for their rapid response with the patients, explaining that it was as if they had rehearsed for the dreadful disaster.
Yet the emergency is far from over. Lives are at stake - including again from cholera. Many people are left without shelter because their homes have been washed away by the floods and disease is rife. At least 350,000 people have been displaced. 500 camps have been set up to offer them temporary shelter.
Medical Mission Sisters in Malawi remain on the frontline of the emergency. Sister Immaculate Tusingwire has sent us some photographs from the camps. The effects of the disaster will be felt by many in Malawi for a long time to come.
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