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Scottish Catholics urged to support flood victims in Malawi

Scottish Catholics urged to support flood victims in Malawi

(Vatican Radio) Catholics in Scotland are being urged to give generously this Lent to support families in Malawi who’ve been made homeless by the worst flooding in half a century. Dozens of people died and up to 200.000 were displaced by last month’s torrential rains which swept away houses, crops and entire village communities in the south-east African nation.

As part of its Lent appeal this year, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, or SCIAF, is raising money for those affected by the floods, as well as supporting small scale projects to help women farmers improve their maize crop and provide a stable income for their families. For every pound raised through the ‘Wee Box’ appeal, as it’s known, the British government will double that donation.

The Archbishop of Edinburgh Leo Cushley has just returned from a week-long visit to Malawi to see first-hand where the money from SCIAF’s Lent appeal will go. He told Philippa Hitchen that there are important signs of hope, despite the devastation wreaked by the flooding….


Archbishop Cushley said the first thing he saw during his February 15th to 21st visit was a field that had been planted three times and repeatedly washed away. Despite the tenacity and hard work of farmers in Malawi, he said, climate change is making an already precarious existence even harder. This is the eighth year of unpredictable weather in the region and this leads quickly to problems of hunger, he said.

But in spite of the challenges, Archbishop Cushley said he saw other projects supported by SCIAF that are very successful. He gave the example of a farmer and mother of four he met called Mary Jackson in the village of Chipolomba. With some training in new farming methods and improved tools, she has been able to improve her maize crop, thus helping her feed her family and have some money left over to spend on education for her children.

Archbishop Cushley spoke of the links between the Scottish town of Blantyre – where he was baptised and where the 19th century missionary David Livingstone was born – and Malawi’s most important commercial city of the same name. The explorer is still fondly remembered by the people of Malawi, he said, and there remains a warm and friendly connection between the two countries.

While Malawi remains very poor, with most people living a hand-to-mouth existence, the Archbishop said he saw the dramatic improvements that SCIAF’s support has brought to peoples’ lives. He urged Catholics in Scotland to fill their ‘wee boxes’ during Lent so that they can help twice as many people in need.

At the same time, Archbishop Cushley said he was moved by the depth of faith of the people he met in Malawi. While the White Fathers and Montfort missionaries may have taken the faith there over a century ago, today he said, the Church in that country is now teaching us how to live and how to celebrate our Christian faith. 

(from Vatican Radio)

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