Mzuzu Diocese’s Empathetic Response to KK Floods

Mzuzu Diocese officials presenting relief items to a beneficiary

In the wake of devastating flash floods that swept through some parts of Nkhota-Kota (KK) like Dwangwa and Dwambazi, leaving a trail of destruction and despair in it’s wake, one institution stands out as a beacon of hope and resilience: the Catholic Development Commission in Malawi (CADECOM) a social arm of the Catholic Church of Mzuzu Diocese.

With unwavering compassion and a commitment to serving their community, the church has emerged as a vital lifeline for 164,000 households affected by the disaster that hit the area, following heavy rains that started to fall around 10 PM of 28th February to 1st March 2024.

The displaced communities are from Traditional Authorities Malengachanzi, Kanyenda, Mphonde and Kafuzira.

69-year-old Constance Matekenya from Chiwe village in the Traditional Authority Kafuzira, which is one of the most affected areas in the district said in an interview that the damage is severe and all the crops she invested in have been washed away by the floods.

“Around midnight of 28th February, I just heard people shouting that we should leave our houses and relocate to safer places because the waters have swept away some neighboring villages.

Like in a movie, when the morning came the survivors noticed that all their crops had gone and had nowhere to start from’’, said Constance who is a widow.

Constance who has four children described the response by the Mzuzu Diocese as manna from heaven. She said the Diocese has eased some of her problems since she had nothing and nowhere to start from.

Just like all beneficiaries at St Mary Catholic Parish in the Dwangwa area, Constance received 30 kilograms of flour, plastic buckets, Cups, plates, 2 liters of cooking oil, among other things from relief items valued at K20 million supported by an Irish-based mission support institution called Misean Cara.

A Call to Action:

As floodwaters recede and the true extent of the damage becomes apparent, Group Village Headman Kamphambale of Dwambazi area in the district and Director of Social Services Father Austin  Ndowera at the Mzuzu Diocese have both called for a more responsible approach to managing the environment.

It has become painfully clear that these floods are not merely isolated incidents but are symptomatic of the broader impact of climate change.

The once-fertile fields that supported the growth of crops like Cassava, Maize, Rice, and Sugarcane in Nkhota-Kota, a district  nestled along the attractive shores of Lake Malawi, now lie barren and submerged beneath floodwaters.

Said the traditional leader: “It is a sad situation to note that people have destroyed the environment which is now fighting us back in a hard way. As chiefs, we are promoting reafforestation and discouraging deforestation more especially in the escapement that borders Nkhota-Kota Kota and Mzimba.”

The mountains are a source of rivers which include Dwangwa, and Nkhunga whose distributors are the Lake Malawi which is just a few kilometers away from Dwangwa and Dwambazi areas.

A Compassionate Response:

In the face of such adversity, the Catholic Church of Mzuzu Diocese has stepped up its efforts to provide critical support to those affected by the floods.

From food distribution and non-food support to emotional counseling, the church has worked tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of displaced families and individuals caught in the jaws of nature’s unrelenting fightback. 

The Church through CADECOM has mobilized resources from Misean Cara to ensure that no one is left behind in their time of need.

“Our parish at Dwangwa notified us about the accident and as a church we thought it wise to immediately respond to the needs of the affected communities because a healthy and problem-free community is a recipe for the country’s development hence the intervention”, explained Father Ndowela.

But the church’s response goes beyond immediate relief efforts. Recognizing the urgent need for long-term solutions, the leaders of Mzuzu Diocese are advocating for proactive measures to mitigate the impact of climate change and prevent future disasters.

They are working closely with local communities to promote sustainable agricultural practices, reforestation initiatives, and environmental conservation efforts.

By empowering communities to adapt to the challenges posed by climate change, the church is helping to build resilience and ensure a brighter future for generations to come.

Said Father Ndowela: “In all the parishes under the Mzuzu Diocese there are environmental programs aimed at reducing the impact of climate change, all parishes are encouraged to plant trees so that the land is not bare”

During the launch of the 2024 tree planting season, the Diocese under the theme: Growing together; Mission for a better tomorrow, Bishop John Ryan spearheaded the planting of 2000 and 10, 000 trees which are expected to be planted in different parishes this season.

A Message of Hope:

In the midst of tragedy and loss, the Catholic Church of Mzuzu Diocese offers a message of hope and solidarity. This complements the support which the government through the Nkhota Kota district council through various initiatives is making in response to natural disasters.

As stakeholders continue to support the people of Nkhota-Kota on their journey toward recovery and resilience, the church serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative impact of faith, compassion, and community action in times of calamities.

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SELL Programme Malawi: March 2024 Activities Report

The SELL Programme Malawi team had a busy and productive March, conducting workshops and events focused on youth development and cultural understanding.

Ungweru commemorates International Women’s Day

On march 8 2024, Ungweru Organisation commemorated the International women’s day at its Laudato Si Hall. The celebration was to recognize the vital role women play in the society, it featured a prayer service alongside inspirational quotes and images of aspiring women.

Sell Programme Meets Mzuni Community

The Mzuzu University (MZUNI) students participated in Sharing Education and Learning for Life Programme workshop at Ungweru, in the Laudato Si Hall. The workshop was on 9 march 2024. The workshop was on one of the SELL units, wisdom of traditions and facilitated by Hagar, Deborah and Isaac.

Step down workshop in Nkhata-bay

One resource person from Sell Programme Malawi, Isaac visited Nkhata-bay district for a step down workshop on wisdom of traditions. The workshop was conducted from 15th to 17th March 2024 and was hosted at Pastoral Center hall. The workshop attracted 24 young adults from the district and four SELL facilitators based in Nkhata-bay facilitated it.

Step-down Workshop in Mzimba Community

On the 22nd to 24th of March the SELL Programme Malawi visited Mzimba community for a workshop on the wisdom of traditions unit. Isaac was the resource persons that represented Sell Programme Malawi at Mzimba community, and the team was very impressed with how organized the facilitators were in Mzimba and how they engaged with the participants.

SELL Meets Students of Lusekelo School of Computing

On 22nd of March, the SELL programme Malawi conducted a wisdom of traditions unit with the students of Lusekelo school of computing at the Ungweru compound.Two Resource Persons from Sell Programme Malawi Hagar and Deborah were there to help the facilitators at Ungweru to present the unit.

St Denis Parish of Rumphi Clocks 75 Years.

The St Denis Parish in the Catholic Diocese of Mzuzu has celebrated its 75th Diamond Jubilee this year after it was established in 1948.

Bishop John Ryan of the Catholic Diocese of Mzuzu will preside over the Eucharist celebrations at a colorful ceremony held at St Denis Parish in Rumphi district.

Parish priest, Father Raymond Mwale, said the parish is pleased to have achieved among others, uniting people and bringing faith and salvation to the parishioners.

Delegates from within and outside Malawi graced the event.

The St Denis Parish was established in 1948 by Father Dupuis.

The Auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Mzuzu Yohane Suzgo Nyirenda presided over the Eucharist celebration.

Christians from different parishes in the Diocese and beyond took part in celebrating the 75th Diamond Jubilee.

Adequate local resources, a major setback for the country’s economic growth

Auxiliary Bishop for Mzuzu diocese Yohane Nyirenda says failure by leaders in all spheres of life to ensure maximum production using available local resources remains a major set back for the country to craw out of poverty.

Auxillary Bishop Nyirenda gave the example of the country having abundance water but fails to produce enough food where hunger is the order of the day year in year out.

He said unless leaders whether it be politicians, public servants faith leaders  change their ways and become angry with the suffering, the country will remain one of the poorest in the world.

The Bishop also singled out laziness and beer drinking as other factors fueling poverty among the citizens.

He was speaking during events to mark this year’s world day of the poor at St Paul’s Parish in Mzimba where food items were distributed to ultra poor families.

One of the beneficiaries Monica Moyo who is widowed hailed the Diocese for the support saying the food items which included a bag of maize flour will help in feeding her family of four.

Resources for the food items came from all commissions under Mzuzu Diocese.

This year’s World Day of the poor was commemorated under the theme ‘Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor’.