St John Malawi helps people affected by Cyclone Freddy

Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi in mid-March 2023, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The cyclone displaced over 88,000 families, killed over 500 people, and sadly, over 507 people were declared missing.

One of the most affected parts of Malawi was Blantyre, Malawi’s second-largest city, Blantyre district including the city townships of Chilobwe, Ndirande, Machinjiri, Bangwe, Chilomoni, and Mbayani were severely damaged. The Malawian government declared a state of disaster in all impacted areas of the Southern Region.

Ndirande and Mbayani is where St John Malawi runs two projects: Mother and Baby and Primary Health Care. To support those affected by the cyclone, St John Malawi appealed for help to assist affected people in Ndirande and Mbayani; many of these households are involved in the projects or volunteer with St John Malawi.

St John Malawi helps people affected by Cyclone Freddy

Support and rescue
On March 13, 2023, St John Malawi staff and brigade volunteers joined health staff, Civil Protection Officers, The Red Cross, and community members on a rescue operation in Chilobwe, to support the injured. More than 85 people had died, and a lot more were declared missing.

St John Malawi helps people affected by Cyclone Freddy

Distribution of relief items
St John Malawi Staff conducted rapid assessments to identify basic and immediate needs for the displaced people living in Ndirande and Mbayani camps. The assessments revealed that food, bedding, shelter, sanitary materials, mosquito nets, and lights were urgently needed.

The Order of St John gave St John Malawi a grant of MK15,192,000 (£12,062) to aid families with food and sanitary items. With this money, 8 tons of maize flour, 7,500 packets of Topsoy pieces, 1,500 kg of kitchen salt, and 6,000 bars of laundry soap were purchased. The items were distributed to 1,580 individuals within the Matope and Malabada camps in Ndirande, a Mbayani school camp in Mbayani, and St John volunteers in Blantyre.

The distribution of relief items took place over two days in April.

St John Malawi helps people affected by Cyclone Freddy

What happens next?
St John Malawi assistance to the victims of Cyclone Freddy was a one-off effort as St John Malawi does not have the financial resources to go beyond what has already been achieved. The Malawi government is in receipt of aid and assistance and will facilitate the rest of the management of the displaced people.

St John will continue to do what we do best and deliver first aid and healthcare education to those most in need and to participants in the projects. St John staff on the ground will continue engaging the authorities from district and city councils and councillors on the reconstruction of some infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, to ensure normal delivery of project implementation.

The city authorities, councillors, camp leadership, beneficiaries, as well as St John staff and volunteers, are very grateful for the financial assistance provided to St John Malawi.

Your contribution enabled us to assist the displaced and affected beneficiaries and volunteers of St John Malawi. St John Malawi board, staff, and volunteers can continue with the delivery of the Mother and Baby and Primary Health Care projects, knowing that they can always, in time of need, turn to the Order of St John, St John Priories: Scotland, USA, South Africa, New Zealand, and Kenya, and other St John Associations throughout the world for assistance.

James Naphambo, President St John Malawi

Watch the video for more on St John Malawi relief efforts.

The Order of St John’s response to the cyclone in Malawi is a stark reminder of our global mission: St John is an international family of charities whose mission is to lead globally in first aid and medical responses to community healthcare needs.