Holt Christian charity maintains Malawi aid
The North Norfolk charity Aid Africa, based in Holt, which has been working in the remote rural areas of southern Malawi for the last 15 years, has been helping the local community to cope with the challenges presented by the global pandemic. Tony Rothe reports.
Lynda and David Mills, who live in Fakenham, run Aid Africa from their charity shop in Holt. David says “It’s certainly been an unusual year! Life has been so different for all of us, and Malawi is no exception, yet we’ve been able to continue to help in many ways despite the difficulties”.
Following last winter’s food distribution programme, the charity also gave tree seedlings to help the families in the longer-term. One of the main trees being used is moringa—a local tree with leaves packed with valuable nutrients—ideal for areas where so many are malnourished. Among the 4,500 tree seedlings grown in their tree nursery were mtangatanga and acacia for fuel, and glycidia for green manure to improve crops.
All were freely distributed to schools, community groups and households to empower local villagers to benefit their frailer neighbours as well as their own families, and share awareness of the importance of trees towards local environmental stability.
David says “We're creating Moringa Groves, using bamboo modular fencing panels to protect trees with highly nutritious leaves from marauding livestock. A first for our part of Malawi, that could revolutionise health for the malnourished. But we haven’t stopped there - we’ve repaired more borehole pumps, distributed more soap, and established an ongoing “food token” programme to help the hungry.”
Along with many other charities, the coronavirus situation has challenged and threatened to end Aid Africa’s work after 15 years in Malawi. The Holt charity shop closed in March, and with it went most of the charity’s income. However, help from the authorities and favourable responses from funding bodies recognising the value of the work have enabled it to continue, but more help would be appreciated!
Lynda Mills says “Our staff are doing well, diligently handling tasks and continuing to positively impact the local community despite the fact that we’re not able to travel from the UK. Our overseers have called onto site occasionally, unannounced, and found the team working well. Site maintenance has been done, the tree nursery re-constructed, and vehicles serviced.”
In June, after the maize harvest, Aid Africa bought in 17 tonnes—the basis for 68,000 meals—to help feed the vulnerable later in the year as the hunger increases. This year, because of the stresses of coronavirus on the word-wide economy and the risk of lockdown in Malawi, it was a struggle to get everything in place in time, but they managed to fill the storerooms and began the process of effective storage. After weighing the
maize, and ensuring it was dry, the grain was winnowed and re-weighed into special bags that are double lined and designed to destroy the weevils which would otherwise threaten destruction of much of the grain.
Each month the charity helps in all sorts of emergency situations—transport to hospital for medical treatment or urgent maternity care, baby formula for hungry babies living too far from our Centre to collect goats’ milk daily, or help with funerals. Their cash-for-work scheme provides temporary work for the more able-bodied who are struggling to feed their families or meet other urgent needs.
They have also been working hard to repair borehole pumps and distribute soap to 600 families in 15 villages, so that the residents not only have clean water to drink, but are able to wash their hands frequently to help fight the virus.
So, despite the pandemic, and not being able to travel to Malawi at the moment, David and Lynda are continuing to look forward, pushing boundaries and setting up plans to help some of the poorest people on the planet.
Donations can be made by contacting the shop, at 7 Shirehall Plain in Holt, NR25 6HT, or via the website, www.aid-africa.com/donations , or via PayPal using email: email@example.com .
phone 01263 713641 or 07979 888398.
The photo shows the women distributing maize, and is courtesy of Aid Africa.
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