“Le ciel ne va pas nous tomber sur la tête” (The sky will not fall on our heads) was the title of a collection of essays a few years ago, about the climate change in the world. But between December 2014 and January 2015 Malawi has had so much rainfall that it seamed that the sky did not manage to stay suspended above and, swollen with water, it was really about to fall on the ground. Not even the elders remember so much rain. The effects of climate change and deforestation have had a harsh effect: the whole southern part of the country is underwater causing casualties, many have lost their homes and there are fears for the spread of epidemics in the campgrounds prepared for the displaced people.
The Community of Sant’Egidio has responded to the requests of help from many, visiting the most affected areas and distributing emergency supplies.
As they say in Balaka the good rain, the one that allows the corn to grow and which feeds, comes from the west, from the great forests of the Congo. It is the rain that farmers expect between November and February and allows the corn to grow. A strong wind from the east has instead brought on Malawi the cyclones from the Indian Ocean. Too much rain in too short time, has taken away the fields with the corn that had just been planted. Also the deforestation all over Malawi has been growing too fast. Too many trees cut and not replanted, too many those sold to the wood traders of the new foreign economic powers. There was nothing to curb the violence of the torrents rushing down from the mountains. Many roads and tracks were washed away, many villages are still isolated or difficult to reach.
In Malawi, the Community of Sant’Egidio, with the help of Total Malawi Foundation and Total France, is also trying to give an answer to the need to better treat our planet, because man and nature are friends and not enemies.
Right in between the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 the second solar power plant was installed and is operating in Balaka, serving the DREAM center and its laboratory.
In the same period, major renovations were made to the laboratory, which is now ready to welcome the new section of molecular biology. It will not be necessary anymore to send elsewhere blood samples for the more sophisticated analysis, but all will be processed in Balaka.
On the roofs of the buildings of DREAM, more than 200 solar panels allow full energy autonomy to the medical and laboratory activities of the AIDS treatment center. A big saving in economic terms both with regards to the electricity but, and above all, on the purchase of fuel for the diesel generator. But also a big saving in terms of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
The distribution of electricity in the more rural areas of Malawi has definitely improved, but there is still much to be done. While all around the DREAM center of Balaka the engines of the diesel generators mumble or trudge for many hours a day, a pleasant silence envelopes the little hut that houses the generator of the DREAM center: it is no longer necessary for the operation of computers and machines for analysis. It can remain at rest for days and even weeks. The solar energy system with its storage batteries will require it only in the case of blackouts of long duration.
“…creation is a wonderful gift given to us all, because we use it for all, always with great respect and gratitude” says Pope Francis. A contribution to the respect for creation, so that the sky shall not fall on our heads, also comes from the DREAM program in Malawi.