April 2019 Sarah Masson Update
A Season of Change…. The wind is changing course!
Greetings from Bangula, Nsanje. I hope all is well you with you at home in Canada and around the world! It has been such a busy few weeks since Cyclone Idai tore through our district, demolished Beira, Mozambique, and stranded people in Zimbabwe.
People don’t know how desperate the situation is after the flood waters retreat and there’s bare, stripped land that’s no good to farm on. This was going to be the first good harvest year since the horrific floods in 2015 (after two cyclones impacted us here in Bangula). I can’t stress enough the desperate need. There is no food growing in our region anymore. We lost part of our highway when a bridge collapsed, and for a time we were cut off from the city of Blantyre and the rest of the country. I quickly realized that without our one highway to get back and forth from the city, it meant we also would lose our food deliveries from the north of Malawi.
Bangula cannot grow much of its own food, and most of its planted farms were washed away and all local markets were deserted. There was no incoming food supply and now there is no food to be harvested. This really drives home the point that our community will not have food available in their own gardens for at least another year. This loss is again detrimental to thousands of people.
Try and picture this by thinking about the worst hurricane you’ve seen on the news, with strong North American houses being torn apart, and then think about that hurricane tearing through straw hut homes, metal roofed sheets flying around and cutting people, only ant hills to cling to, no major structures to climb up, and all your belongings siting on the floor (so they get drenched and swept away in the current). The power of the water is easiest explained by sharing that three elephants drowned in the extreme power of the water that swept through our valley here in Malawi.
There is hope! I have witnessed many people already trying to plant again and at least get some harvest by the end of the year. We will see…. At this time there is a severe food crisis and a possible disease outbreak crisis. Many people are staying together in close quarters, with many families in larger tents. Exposure to Malaria is increased, and the potential for a cholera outbreak is high when people do not have access to clean water. Please continue to pray about this, because the storms seem to be only getting started! Please pray for the world’s changing weather systems.
Aside from the current immediate needs that have kept me busy taking photos and footage to share worldwide for support for the disaster relief, I have been busy with my usual duties. I am settling into more of a routine with our second group of graduates from secondary school. Some will prepare to leave the nest in the next few months, and some will go on to college or university. I am working as hard as possible to make sure that our students get further education under their belts, so that they can move up and out. We’ve been studying small businesses, and they are creating products that people would want to buy. It’s very exciting! I really enjoy this part of my work week.
I’m continually encouraged that our young adults take on leadership roles within our community. Two of our young men have taken up leadership of the youth group program, which means that I get to attend and be there with and for the youth, but they can completely run the whole program on their own. This truly blesses my heart in so many ways. I’m so excited to see how God will use them to bless their younger brothers and sisters. After eight years of running the same youth group, I’m so pumped to have our young people taking up the reigns with very little guidance from me. What a joy!