Lizzie Beach is an International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response student, and has been on a placement year in Malawi since last September living and working in a home for vulnerable children. She supports them with their emotional and social development, tutors them for their academic studies and helps to improve their spoken and written English, as well as teaching in a nearby primary school.
She is doing her placement though Project Trust, a UK-based charity which works in partnership with organisations in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Its volunteers take part in long-term placements alongside local teams to support education, youth development and social care initiatives She was at the childrens’ home when Cyclone Freddy hit - luckily the house remained standing and the children were all safe, although the roof developed some major leaks and the garden partially flooded.
However, the cyclone caused devastation across her local district of Blantyre and the entire south of Malawi - latest reports are saying that more than 225 people have died in the country, and more than 88000 people have been displaced.
The dire situation means people have lost their homes and family members, and many have gone for several days without food. To make matters worse, heavy rains are expected to continue and will likely cause more flooding in the coming days.
With no access to a car or other significant resources, Lizzie is trying to help in any way that she can by raising awareness and money for two charities working on the ground. Road to Relief, who she works personally with, are providing emergency kits which include maize flour, salt, soya, soap, tea, sugar, rice, plastic sheeting, a bucket, water guard and a blanket. The kits cost the equivalent of £27, and they are vital to help the people who have been displaced.
Another charity, Round Table Malawi, is also working hard to provide emergency aid and support. Both chairities will have a direct positive impact on the lives of those who are suffering, but they both need urgent funds to deal with the sheer number of people requiring aid.
"During my degree, I consume so many news and academic articles about disasters across the world - while these are often difficult to read, experiencing such a disaster in real life is completely different," said Lizzie. "My desire and drive to help in the response comes from my personal passion for humanitarian aid, and I also personally know a number of people whose homes were destroyed by the storm."
I am trying to do everything I can to help with my limited resources - engaging with contacts back in the UK is a big part of this, and I am depending on the generosity of faculty members, students and friends of the university to raise awareness, and help the people here in Malawi.
To donate to Road to Relief, visit http://paypal.me/BanjaUmodzi . You can also donate via bank transfer to Memon Association UK (sort code 30-98-97, account number 67538462).
To donate to Round Table Malawi, visit gofund.me/569c6f2a .