New Beginnings in Malawi
by Us (formerly USPG)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To think about how difficult new beginnings can be, especially after a disaster.
Preparation and materials
- You may like to have a large world map or an image of one, to show where Malawi is (optional).
- For background, you can read about the Church’s response to the flooding in Malawi (at: www.weareus.org.uk/news/malawiflood). There are also reports on the effects of the disaster on Aljazeera English's website (at: http://tinyurl.com/k6qdgzj) and the BBC's website (at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30980324). The latter also has a short video showing the devastation caused (at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-30874965).
- How do you feel about coming back to school this year?
Take some answers from the children.
- A new start can be a difficult time. What new starts have you made in your lives? What have they been like?
Take some answers from the children. If they need to be prompted, you could give some examples, such as moving house, making new friends or the arrival of a baby brother or sister. Explore some of the comments they make, particularly ones about new starts being scary and difficult.
- So, new starts can be exciting, but they can also be very hard. We can miss things we have left behind and be scared about the future because we don’t know what it will be like.
- For some people, their world is turned upside down and they have to start everything all over again. Often, this can be as a result of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or flood, that destroys everything in its path.
That is what happened earlier this year in a country called Malawi, in Africa, where huge floods washed away people’s homes, their farms, their animals and even members of their families.
Show where Malawi is on the map, if using.
They usually have periods of heavy rain, but it was much heavier and lasted for much longer than usual. This caused a huge flood, which affected about a third of the country. Around 100,000 people lost their homes and all of the crops they were growing to eat and sell to make a living. Trees were blown down, there was no electricity and no safe drinking water. Worse still, some people were washed away in the flooding. Malawi is a very poor country compared to where we live, so it is even more difficult for the people there to start all over again than it would be here.
- Can you imagine what this might be like? What would you need first?
Take some answers from the children.
Thankfully, there are lots of people who are there to help. The Church in Malawi is helping to support people who have been affected by the flooding. They are using churches and church schools to give people who are homeless somewhere to live, giving out food and providing plastic sheeting to build temporary homes. Charities from all over the world are also helping people to start their lives over again, but it will take a long time and will be difficult and scary.
- For older children.
Let us explore the link between extreme weather globally and climate change. It can be hard to think that what we do here in the UK can have an effect so far away, but we can help to make a difference by doing our best to stop climate change from getting worse.
Discuss actions that could be taken, such as turning off lights, turning down heating – wearing more clothes instead to keep warm – or using public transport or walking instead of going somewhere by car.
Time for reflection
Let’s spend a moment thinking about all those people in Malawi and other countries who are having to start new lives. Let’s be thankful that there are people who support those in most need.
Let’s also think about people facing fresh starts who are closer to home. Do we know people who might be finding a new start scary or difficult? How might we be able to help them?
We’re going to finish with a prayer from Bangladesh – another country that experiences a lot of flooding.
Lord of the storm,
to all who live beside dangerous seas
and on the banks of unpredictable rivers,
grant peace of mind
and the assurance of your presence
in each and every circumstance that may befall them.
'He’s got the whole world' (Come and Praise, 19)