Cash assistance meant Margaret
could rebuild after a
cyclone devastated her home.

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Older African woman in purple and blue outfit with her tall son and smaller younger son.
© Andrew Collodel/HelpAge International

Margaret, at center, in Malawi with two of her five grandchildren.

Meet Margaret

Margaret lives in Malawi, Africa. After her husband passed away, she became the primary caregiver for her teenage daughter and five grandchildren, who live with her. She paid their school fees by growing corn, but making ends meet was a constant challenge—especially without secure employment or a pension. Despite everything standing in her way, Margaret remains resourceful and determined.

Cyclone Idai caused catastrophic damage to her house.

In March of 2019, Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique and proceeded to tear through everything in its path, destroying crops, blowing away houses, and knocking out electricity across Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Margaret’s home was one of the many that suffered catastrophic damage.

Margaret used the funds we gave her to rebuild.

HelpAge was on the ground immediately after the cyclone, where we worked with our local partner, MANEPO. Margaret received enough cash to buy bricks to rebuild a vital wall of her home. She also took out a loan for other repairs and hoped to cover the remaining costs by digging river sand, which she could sell to businesses for cement production.

Margaret’s future remains precarious

Even with all her hard work, Margaret’s income remains modest and insecure. When we saw her, with her maize drying in the sun, she explained that her meager harvest of five bags of corn was not enough to last the year and, the following year, she would not be able to grow any corn because the government sold the plot of land she used.

All too many grandparents across Malawi are in Margaret’s position

While many older people in Malawi are strong caregivers and providers who are doing their best to pull their families out of poverty, they face significant odds and circumstances beyond their control — from natural disasters to the threat of violent political conflict.

How you can help people like Margaret

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