Climate change vulnerability clear and present in Malawi

Izaac Wilson dances with Malawi children during his visit last year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Izaac Wilson dances with Malawi children during his visit last year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
World Vision 40 Hour Famine youth ambassador and Christchurch resident, Izaac Wilson, travelled to Malawi last year to visit climate-vulnerable communities  struggling to survive as recurring droughts, floods and cyclones wreak havoc on their crops. He shares his journey.

I’ve taken part in the World Vision 40 Hour Famine for the past 10 years.

From eating only rice to doing 40 good deeds, going without shoes, food and electricity, having my hands tied together for 40 hours and even hosting an art auction, I’ve taken on many different challenges and have raised a little over $32,000 in the process.

Over the years, this money — thanks to the generous people in our community who have donated, supporting my efforts — has helped support South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, Syrian refugees in Jordan as well as provided food for malnourished children and families in Bangladesh, plus so much more.

It’s not an exaggeration to say the 40 Hour Famine is now part of my identity, but this year it is even more so because I’ve seen, first-hand, why the 40 Hour Famine is needed.

In my new role as a Youth Ambassador, I was able to visit the communities who will benefit and meet the people whose lives we can help change in this year’s 40 Hour Famine. I’m more inspired than ever to know that from right here in New Zealand, from right here in the South Island, we can make a difference for the people of Malawi.

Going to Malawi was an experience that will stick with me forever. Travelling there, I knew I was going to see the impact of extreme weather events — but I didn’t realise just how vulnerable to climate change so many Malawians are. Over the past six years alone, the people of Malawi have faced recurring droughts, floods and even cyclones, which have severely impacted on their ability to grow food. And in communities that rely entirely on what they grow to survive, this is resulting in increasingly alarming levels of poverty and hunger for children.

I met kids like 14-year-old Prisca who is afraid of the rain — afraid because she’s seen floods destroy her community repeatedly over the past few years. Like many others in Malawi, Prisca’s family relies solely on their crops for food — and when it floods, their crops literally wash away.

It broke my heart to know that so many people in Malawi have to go without food and that they’re truly at the mercy of the weather. But at the same time, I felt hopeful knowing there’s something we can do about it. Here in New Zealand, we can make a change for kids like Prisca.

Will the 40 Hour Famine look a little different this year? Most likely. We’ve all been focused on Covid-19 and life in our bubbles — and rightly so. But if this has taught me anything it’s how important it is to care for others; to seek out those who need our help and do what we can for them.

And the 40 Hour Famine gives us the chance to do just that. Even if we have to do our challenges from the comfort of our own homes, we still can, and will, make just as much impact as ever.

 - The 40 Hour Famine is on June 5-7. Money raised will provide schools and farmers with seeds for crops, watering systems and goats so the people of Malawi can build resilient and sustainable farming and reduce the impact of climate change on their communities.


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