**Photograph: Bonex Julius/AFP/Getty Images This past week Malawi was hit with deadly floods, killing over 170 people, leaving more than 200,000 people without food, clean water, shelter and aid, and destroying over 400 schools. Much of the country has been entirely cut off, as many access roads have been washed out by the torrential rains.
Our project leader in Malawi, Ian Maliseni, spoke to us from the Urunji Child Care Trust head office in Lilongwe. We were lucky enough to spend a week with Ian in Malawi earlier this year and can say he has dedicated his life to helping the people of Malawi.
Ian was the Director for Malawi at a large humanitarian aid organization, but quit the $40,000 a year job for one with Urunji working twice the hours, even though it only pays $1,800/year.
The fund brings in enough money to pay him more, but he would never take more as a salary than is absolutely necessary to live on. Besides the financial sacrifice Ian has made, he only sees his wife twice a year because he is not able to support her and their six children (five of which were adopted) on such a small salary. His wife has a good job as a teacher in Zambia and takes care of their children.
It is currently planting time in Malawi. We have established a large nursery and the trees are ready for planting in late January/early February.
January 19th Ian C Maliseni tentree Project Leader Malawi
How are you Ian? Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the people of Malawi.
I’m so desperate to get the trees planted this week. When we are giving relief items it will be great to plant trees as well.
It’s been so overwhelming after the floods. My house was flooded over 3 weeks ago as well but not as bad as the communities. But all hope is not lost. I almost broke down to cry but I strengthened myself. I wouldn’t crying(sic) the presence of people I’m trying to help.
But children are the most affected. Malaria and bilhazia are now the challenges we are facing after the floods. And the government has no money to help. It’s very sad.
There’s no piped water. We were giving chlorine to treat the water but it’s now finished so they are drinking the same dirty untreated water. Food is a challenge for the people. We give porridge so they have 1 meal a day that’s all.
How are our trees doing? Are they helping? Did the ones planted survive?
The trees help a lot.
The ones we planted before still stand. That area was not eroded despite heavy floods. If enough trees were kept alive the country wouldn’t experience flooding this badly. On the one hand it’s a bitter lesson to the people to take care and plant trees.
How are the people handling it?
They are mostly desperate. Especially the children. When it rains a bit they start crying. We’ve been giving them psychosocial support because most of the children are traumatised.
And believe me Kalen I was nearly affected as well. The thing is the houses are thatched with grass and there is no grass now for them to rebuild.
And tents are expensive they can’t afford. Kalen this work is not easy.
This is called ‘Lemonade from lemon’. In trying to remove fear men are sitting in the water when it subsides so that children don’t fear.
tentree will continue to work with Ian and Urunji to ensure the safety and revitalization of Malawi, and provide assistance in this time of need.