When Tapiwa Machinjiri arrived in Glasgow from Malawi last November she was 24 weeks pregnant.
“It was a long flight,” she remembers. “But I was coming to Glasgow, coming to COP26 to represent the people I work with in Malawi. The women and girls who are most affected by climate change. So even though I was pregnant I felt I had to do it. I had to make their voices heard.”
While in Glasgow with SCIAF, she told those stories to politicians, activists, and journalists from all over the world as world leaders tried to decide what to do about climate change.
“After COP26 I am still optimistic,” she said. “I think the world saw, everybody saw what is happening, and in so many places they’ve experienced what is happening with climate change that they know they have to act. And rich countries made a lot of commitments they need to live up to.”
The need remains great. Just last month Cyclone Ana hit southern Malawi causing devastation.
“ People lost their lives, their livestock, their homes,” she explains. “We still don’t know how bad the impact will be. Many crops were destroyed in the fields which may mean people will struggle to get enough food later in the year.”
She is particularly worried about this as Malawi is also facing a cost of living crisis.
“Since the war in Ukraine started the price of bread has doubled,” she explained. Ukraine was one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat. “This war is having a big impact on prices here. A lot of people are worried about the future.”
Despite the challenges of the moment she speaks with great fondness about her time in Glasgow when she stayed at the parish of the Immaculate Conception Maryhill.
“I have many good memories,” she said. “Fr Jim [Lawlor] there, he was a very good host. The people there didn’t know us at all but they were so supportive. So the trip was worth it – And now my baby is here, so thank God it was all worth it.”
Her daughter Tsanzo was born a month ago and is happy and healthy.
“What I want,” Tapiwa said. “Is for her to grow up in a world that can embrace the challenge of taking care of the environment, where girls like her can be supported to tackle that and all the other challenges that are important to them. That is the world SCIAF is working towards and why we appreciate everyone who supports them. Working with women and girls, to help them adapt to climate change, is helping to save lives.”
SCIAF’s WEE BOX campaign this Lent is focused on people in Malawi who are living with the impact of climate change. Find out more or donate here.