MALAWI – “Hunger is a silent war that is killing Malawi”
A Monforte missionary describes the critical situation in Malawi, a country affected by the drought that has exacerbated the poor economic conditions caused largely by poor governance. “It’s hard to keep track. It happens in every town with more and more frequently. Funerals with long vigils during the night and the sad daily processions are the most obvious signs that Malawi is a dying country” said Fr Piergiorgio Gamba, an Italian missionary working in Malawi.
Lack of food is the main cause of these increasingly frequent funerals. Worst off are the elderly who are unable to get a plate of polenta or some vegetables – in the past someone would have brought food to them. “The first to die are the elderly. Grandparents survive with difficulty in normal years, but they can not win against endemic diseases like malaria” said Fr Gamba. However, lack of food is not the only cause of high mortality among the elderly. Hospitals are terribly overcrowded and cannot even provide minimum levels of care.
The Universities of Malawi are experiencing one of the most difficult periods in their history with the steep increase in fees. In the past not many could afford to attend college but now fees have reached the highest level, over a thousand euros a year for a population where many earn below one dollar a day. High school is only for the rich and more than 50% of college students are no longer able to continue their studies. While the number of students in primary and secondary schools is booming although there is still no compulsory education, the serious shortage of textbooks is one of the main causes of absenteeism and the reason why many children stop attending school.
The lack of electricity is another problem as not even a minimum supply can be guaranteed. Lake Malawi does not have enough water to produce enough electricity for the country and for at least the next 6 months, there will be no electricity for 12 hours a day.
However, the greatest evil that affects Malawi is still corruption. Recent changes imposed by the government, the army chief, local leaders and police seem to have been launched in preparation for the elections of 2019 and not for the common good.
Religious leaders have spoken out about the moral degradation “We have become a corrupt people. Why are albinos being killed? Why do we hate and envy each other? ” While these questions are appropriate, it is the lack of proper leadership that has caused the country to become a ‘failed state’, a country without a present or future. Unity and cohesion can be the deciding factor for positive change.
ACN supports various projects in Malawi – emergency aid for flood victims; support for priests, Sisters and seminarians; construction and renovation of churches and church buildings; pig rearing and agricultural projects aimed at self-sufficiency.