One Family's Story of Resilience and Hope Amidst the Ruins
The Devastating Impact on Malawi and the Journey to Recovery
CHIKWAWA, Malawi - In 2022, Cyclone Ana brought immense destruction to the nation of Malawi, leaving behind a trail of devastation that would be remembered for years to come, writes Sumeya Issah.
Among the most severely affected areas was Chikwawa, where heavy rains and flooding ravaged the region, displacing countless families and leaving them in a state of utter despair.
Official reports from Malawi's disaster department painted a grim picture of the aftermath of Cyclone Ana.
Nearly a million people, approximately 994,967, were impacted by the cyclone, with over 2,000 individuals finding themselves displaced and 46 lives tragically lost.
The Lower Shire region bore the brunt of Ana's destructive power, demanding immediate medical attention and relief efforts for the displaced communities.
The urgent need for crucial resources such as food in established camps was an uphill battle faced by aid organizations.
For the vulnerable communities and villages in Chikwawa, the events of January 2022 marked a profound turning point in their lives.
The cyclone left an indelible mark of defeat, as families witnessed their homes and possessions being swept away by the merciless floodwaters.
One story that encapsulates the heart-wrenching reality is that of Tobias Mulinganiza.
He vividly recalls the day when he lost everything - his home and all his belongings - to the wrath of Cyclone Ana.
The memories of that disastrous day filled him with terror for months to come.
"As we were evacuating our house, it suddenly collapsed before our eyes," Mulinganiza recounts.
"The impact of the rain didn't hit us until we saw our home crumbling, taking away everything we held dear."
For Mulinganiza, the loss of his home marked the beginning of a nightmarish journey.
As the head of his family, responsible for the well-being of his wife and seven children, he knew that recovering from the aftermath of Cyclone Ana would require nothing short of a miracle.
His greatest concern was providing for his children and grandchildren, who relied on him for care and support.
"The disaster shattered my hope. Thoughts of giving up and even ending my own life plagued my mind," he confides.
"Fear and anxiety overwhelmed me, as I pondered how I would rebuild our lives without anyone to lean on."
Yet, amidst the darkest days of suffering, the Mulinganiza family's breakthrough came in the form of SOS Children's Villages Malawi's Emergency Response Program (ERP).
They began receiving much-needed maize, which alleviated the immediate burden of food scarcity.
"Our breakthrough arrived, bringing a positive change to our lives. Food was no longer a constant worry," Mulinganiza gratefully shares.
"As a man, my focus shifted to rebuilding our home, ensuring better shelter for my family."
Through the SOS Emergency Response Program, the Mulinganiza family slowly started to regain a semblance of normality. Having food on their table gave them hope for the future.
However, SOS Children's Villages Malawi went beyond providing just food assistance to those affected by the cyclone.
As part of the recovery process, they extended support to families like the Mulinganizas by supplying seedlings for farming.
"Our aim is for families to gradually rebuild their lives and not solely rely on emergency food aid," explains Neverson M'boma, a representative from Children's Villages Malawi.
"We equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to cultivate their own crops and ensure food security in their homes."
The farming items distributed to the affected families included maize, millet, sorghum seedlings, potato vines, plus hoes, pangas, and agricultural chemicals.
For Tobias Mulinganiza, these seedlings and farming tools served as the catalyst for rebuilding his life.
He poured his heart into ensuring a successful harvest, leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to restore his family's well-being.
From the seedlings he received, Mulinganiza managed to harvest over six bags of millet and a few bags of sorghum, sustaining his family's needs.
Unfortunately, the maize crop suffered due to the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy, which struck Malawi earlier this year.
Undeterred, Mulinganiza switched to farming sesame, a crop in high demand in Malawi.
With determination, resilience, and hard work, Mulinganiza embarked on rebuilding his home.
He wasted no time in utilizing the income he earned as the sole breadwinner.
"Knowing that my family had food security gave me peace of mind, allowing me to concentrate on creating a better and more secure home for us," Mulinganiza proudly declares.
"I am delighted to say that I have achieved exactly that."
Mulinganiza's newly constructed house showcased an unprecedented level of resilience, withstanding the destructive force of Cyclone Freddy.
His gratitude remains steadfast for SOS Children