Malawi's bishops are making solidarity visits to areas in the country's southern and central regions to deliver aid items collected for those affected by devastating floods in January which displaced more than 230,000 from their homes. “We commend the oneness and unity in joy and tribulation which the Catholic Church in Malawi has shown, and we continue to ask well-wishers to keep contributing towards this noble cause,” Archbishop Thomas Msusa of Blantyre said March 10 at an event held in the Thyolo district. “The demand for relief items in the affected 15 districts is still huge,” he added at the visit to displaced persons living in shelter camps in the area. Representatives from each of Malawi's eight dioceses delivered money, clothes, food, and non-food items valued at 1 billion Malawian kwachas, or $2.2 million. The aid was collected from Catholic parishes and institutions across the country. Archbishop Msusa acknowledged the generosity shown by the faithful in Malawi, who contributed about 240 metric tons of assorted items that includes clothes, shoes, blankets, beddings, kitchen utensils, and non-perishable foods such as chips, corn, and beans. He described how the Malawi bishops had designated Feb. 8 “as a special Sunday for the collections of relief items to support thousands of our brothers and sisters affected by the floods,” adding that “we dedicated all the collections for the AMECEA thanksgiving Mass Jan. 31 towards the support of the flood victims.” Launching the flood disaster response project, Archbishop Msusa noted that the Church in Malawi and worldwide has been alarmed and grieving that thousands of people have been displaced and rendered homeless, houses and crops destroyed, and many more injured. Fr. Emmanuel Chimombo, acting secretary general for the Malawi bishops conference, thanked the universal Church for hearing the appeal for assistance towards the flood disaster: “Our brothers and sisters across the world, through Caritas International, mobilized resources for the flood response in Malawi.” Fr. Chimombo also appealed to the Catholic faithful in leadership positions “to live to their Christian values by advocating for the poor, as well as resilient building policies so that events like these disasters do not always catch Malawians off guard.” Prince Henderson, communications officer for the Malawi bishops, noted that both Gift Mafuleka of the Malawian Department of Disaster Management Affiars and the Traditional Authority Ngolongoliwa, a local government body in Thyolo district, had commended the Church for responding to the president's call to support household affected by the flooding. Two weeks of heavy rain in January claimed more than 275 lives and displaced more than 230,000 persons from their homes in 15 of Malawi's 28 districts. In addition to homes, infrastructure such as roads and bridges were damaged. Tens of thousands of farm animals, the primary form of capital for most farmers, have died or remain vulnerable to starvation and disease. The contamination of water has also raised concerns around the spread of such diseases as malaria and diarrhea. According to Voice of America, the flooding washed away more than 158,000 acres of farmland in the country where agriculture accounts for 30 percent of GDP. Pope Francis sent a message of solidarity to the country Jan. 24, assuring Malawians of “his prayers for the victims, their families and all affected by this catastrophe.”
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