One, two, three, four. She counts the MK2,000 notes from her envelope. She pauses, shakes her head and lifts her chin slightly. She puts the money back in her envelope, grabs her walking stick and starts to leave as her face breaks into a huge smile, relief drawn all over it. This is Steria Tomas, from T/A Mwambo in Zomba district. She is aged 70 and is one of the victims of the March 2019 floods which displaced 86,976 households and killed at least 56 people across 15 affected districts.
Mulanje district is known for its tea estates and is home to the highest mountain in Malawi. Yohane Kajawo, 17, is lucky to see this landscape every day. There are views of mountain waterfalls from his village, in addition to the vibrant green of the tea plantations. And, less than a kilometer from his home is Ngangala Primary School. Here you witness another sea of green, as hundreds of children are dressed in their bright green uniforms.
Linley Manda, 30, remembers the night of March 9, 2019 like it was yesterday. She was woken up at 12am by heavy rains at her home in Nsanje district. She saw water entering her house and quickly rising. She started to scream and woke up her children with her husband. The children were crying and shouting for help. They fled to a nearby school for safety, away from the rising waters.
Mphunzi Primary School is in Mphunzi village, in a remote part of Dedza. In the rainy season, the weather is cool and is surrounded by green hills with breathtaking scenery. Despite the beauty students see on a daily basis, the school’s isolation has left it without access to clean water for years.
The empty airfield, while devoid of planes, feels full of life and excitement. The breeze keeps a tattered orange wind sock moving. And in the distance, the sounds of young people playing at a nearby school fills the air, reminding everyone why we're here.
Patson Kadyankoni, 34, dreamed of becoming a reverend when he was a child. As he finished his secondary school, he pivoted towards nursing instead. Now, seated in the consultation room at Mtakataka Health Centre, he is a trusted nurse midwife. Dressed in a neat white nursing suit, he attends to pregnant and new mothers every day, helping keep them healthy and save lives.
For a country that is chronically hit by dry spells and food scarcity, the sight of rainfall brings immense joy. Rain is a sign of abundance and food security. Too much rainfall, on the other hand, is a recipe for concern. Flooding can wash away crops, destroy houses and property and be a threat to humans and livestock.
Tadala Sempani, 21, stands proudly at Chinamvuu Secondary School ground with a group of children who have just received scholarships from the Secondary Education Trust Fund. Her face is wearing a massive smile. It is a day to remember for her. Just a couple of months ago she thought her chances of continuing her secondary education were over.
I started working as a child protection officer at UNICEF Malawi in February 2019. A massive flood that displaced 87,000 people occurred just after 3 weeks of my arrival. I was deployed to the affected areas in the southern part of Malawi twice after the floods. The first time was immediately after the flood for assessment, and the other for the response from 25th April to 9th May.
Whistles, bustles, singing, and dancing. This was the atmosphere at Nankhali Primary School on 29th March 2019 when learners saw a truck loaded with desks arriving at the school. The primary school is located in rural Lilongwe. An area where many households struggle to make ends meet. The school itself had been disadvantaged for a very long time. It only had five classrooms for a population of nearly 2000 students. The classrooms were run down, with many learners sitting on the floor during lessons, with about 750 children having lessons outside.