Malawi disaster - special appeal

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The news that extensive flooding has brought devastation to large tracts of southern Malawi has caused particular anguish to the congregation of St. Andrew’s Church, Arbroath, which for almost ten years has been developing partnerships with these very communities. News from the worst hit areas has now reached the congregation and every bit of it makes grim reading:

• Countless thousands have been left homeless, their primitive, mud-brick houses having been brought down by the heavy rains

• Entire villages have been washed away by rising flood waters

• Hundreds have been killed, perhaps many more as yet undiscovered in remote areas

• Water-born diseases are on the rise

• Crops have been ruined and with poor weather continuing the window of opportunity for re-planting is fast closing

Becky Dunphy, who spent time in Malawi volunteering in these communities, said: “People in these regions are simply too poor to cope with the extensive damage to homes, infrastructure and crops and the great effect that these floods will have on people’s ability to feed their families. Our centre at Thyolo seems to have been worst affected with a 9 year old child under our care being killed when the roof of his house fell on him. We were able to help the family with the costs of the funeral by providing a coffin and food.”

In the years of its Partnership, St. Andrew’s Church has been responsible for the building and running of two orphan centres, in total caring for some 350 children - that is, providing proper meals, education and health services and, for some, residential care.

The congregation manages this by a combination of fund-raising events and a child-sponsorship programme. While many of the children in these centres now have their own sponsors, many more are waiting for a sponsor. It only takes £10 per month to sponsor a child but that small amount of money makes a huge difference. Herald readers interested in joining the sponsorship scheme should contact the Church Office for more information (TEL: 01241 431135 or office@arbroathstandrews.org.uk).

But more immediately, the congregation is organising a relief effort to support the poorest villagers in the worst-affected areas - those who have been made homeless and those who have no means of feeding themselves.

On Saturday February 7, beginning at 7pm, there will be a quiz night in the church hall. Teams can take a table for £10 and a collection will be uplifted on top of that for those who want to offer further support.

Then on Sunday, February 8 at 12.15pm following the morning service, there will be a Soup and Pudding lunch.

Bookings, tickets, further information etc. can be had from the Church Office or from Sheila Dunphy, Malawi Project Organiser (TEL: 01241 873218 or 07752467654)

Minister, Martin Fair, comments: “Sure, we are praying for these communities but our prayers need to be complemented by actions. These fund-raising events will give members of the congregation and folks from the whole of Arbroath a great opportunity to show that we care and that we’re not prepared to sit back and do nothing.”