“As of today, 21st March 2023, the number of displaced people is at 553,614 with 543 camps set to accommodate the displaced. The death toll has risen from 499 to 507 with 1,332 injuries. The number of reported missing persons is at 537 from 427,” (Source)
Bodies are still being retrieved from the mud and rubble. There has been a big response from neighbouring countries, the UN, and international organizations providing assistance, but more will be required as the devastation is too great for Malawi to handle alone.
There has been a slight reprieve in the rain, and the sun has been shining over the last two days. Schools are still closed as some are being used to house the homeless and displaced. Orbus is expecting to re-start some secondary classes next week.
Food shortages could become a major problem very quickly. The crops I saw everywhere when I visited in February pointed to a bumper season for Malawi, even though there was a shortage of fertilizer, however much of the maize crops in southern Malawi will have been damaged or destroyed.
Although many people in Malawi received a cholera vaccine in February, there remains a real risk of a worsening cholera problem in Malawi, along with other water born sicknesses.
I spoke with the government regional health coordinator onsite at Orbus in February and was informed that most of the Orbus students had by then been offered a cholera vaccine, and while there were cases of cholera in the vicinity no cases had yet been reported at Orbus.
Combined with seriously storm damaged infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, these looming problems all point to major challenges ahead for southern Malawi, so please continue to pray.
I asked what the greatest needs are, and how best Australian friends of Malawi could help in this situation, Edmond suggests the needs are mostly for food, clothing, buckets, blankets and plastic sheets.
Assisting the Orbus community in whatever way we can is our objective in coming weeks. Orbus staff are able to purchase items for distribution and Lameck, our in-house building project manager, is ready to assist where needed to assess and facilitate urgent home repairs. With this in mind we will seek to establish a committee of Orbus leadership and staff in Malawi and myself to oversee and account for an Orbus Cyclone Freddy Relief Fund.
As part of Orbus’ involvement in providing relief and development in Malawi, donations to Orbus Ministries Australia Inc. are tax deductible for Australian donors. If anyone would like to contribute to providing some practical assistance through this fund, please specify "Relief" clearly on your donations or by email to us.
Orbus Australia sending people to help, given the cost of doing so, is deemed unattainable and sending funds to facilitate local efforts would seem the way to help in this instance. Ideally if funds were available to do both there is very much a strong desire to do so.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like further updates in coming days.
0434 1968 29