member of Harrogate-based Open Arms charity has travelled to see the effects of a tropical cyclone on the children and families they support in south-east Africa. The charity, which runs two infant homes and nine nursery schools in Malawi, is urging people to donate to its emergency appeal after the cyclone caused devastating floods in this landlocked country, one of the poorest in all of Africa.
Harrogate's head of fundraising Claire Collins said: "I visited Open Arms in Malawi recently with one of our trustees and we have now launched an appeal to help the families that we work with”
"Fortunately, most of our homes and children aren't located where the worst of the flooding from the Shire River is, as this is further south. "But some of the families that we support through outreach visits in communities have lost homes, stored food, animals and their crops and some of our staff are affected, too, especially in Chikwawa and Nsanje, which have been hit the hardest, families are facing severe hardship”.
Claire Collins said:. "The emergency response is being led by the Disasters Emergency Committee and disaster response charities but the families that we work with out in communities are some of the most vulnerable in extremely remote locations, so there is an important role for us to play to get families back on their feet and giving longer term help where needed over the next 12 months. "
"Our matron in Malawi, Mrs Phiri travelled to Chikwawa and Nsanje to make an assessment of eight families living where flood damage is most severe. We have so far reached six of the eight families; two are still inaccessible as flood water continues to make roads and farmland impassable. "
“We have been touched by the messages and good wishes that supporters have sent to our teams recently”.
"Through our appeal, we will be providing food and basic medicines and additional monitoring as well as helping families rebuild their homes over the next 12 months. "
Open Arms, a Harrogate charity with long links to Ashville College and readers of the Harrogate Advertiser which helped name one of its homes, has now set a target of £10,000 in fundraising but is hopeful of exceeding that target.
As a result of the visits by Open Arms, the appeal will be targeted at helping those most in need. Claire Collins said: "Half of the £10,000 will provide food and basic medicines and supplies and the other half will provide additional monitoring as well as helping rebuild and repair homes over the next 12 months. "If we raise more than we need we will use additional funds to support families and staff in other low lying areas that have been impacted as well." Donations to the Open Arms emergency appeal for Malawi can be made online at www.openarmsmalawi.org/floods