Reaching out with love after Cyclone Idai
16 September 2019
Back in March, Cyclone Idai swept across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi – leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Huge swathes of Southern Africa were battered by one of the worst storms to hit the region, which brought with it torrential rains and winds of up to 90 mph. Millions of people lost their homes, their crops and their businesses.
One of the people caught up in the chaos was Sara who was heavily pregnant with her third child. She had just gone to bed when the ferocious winds ripped the roof off her family home.
“I woke up my two other children Francisca (7) and Ageou (5), and quickly walked them to a neighbour’s house across the road,” she told us. “It was then that I started to experience contractions.”
Sara's miracle baby
Sara was rushed to the local hospital in Beira, Mozambique’s fourth biggest city. Although nearly 90 per cent of the city was submerged under flood waters, the hospital was still open. Miraculously, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She called him Idai, the name given to the cyclone which also means ‘to love’.
When we met Sara, she was cradling Idai tenderly in a temporary camp set up on parish land, with the agreement of the local priest. It was clear that Sara’s miracle baby was surrounded by love – not just from his proud mum but also from people like you, thousands of miles away, who responded with enormous generosity to our emergency appeal. Together you helped us to raise more than £2 million.
Vital local knowledge in remote communities
We are part of one of the largest aid networks in the world. Thanks to your donations, the local Church was able to spring into action reaching thousands of people like Sara and Idai with life-saving food, clean water and hygiene kits. Our local aid workers and volunteers worked around the clock to get supplies to where they were needed most – offering vital local knowledge to make sure that families cut off by flooding got the help they needed to survive.
This network of local workers is still on the ground today, providing, food, shelter and advice on hygiene to limit the spread of waterborne diseases – and helping some of the remotest rural communities to rebuild their shattered lives.
“No one has the presence in the field like the Church,” said the Archbishop of Beira, Claudio dalla Zuanna. “So, we have to use this for the good of the people – we help by providing seeds, helping people to replant, drilling wells for access to clean water close to home, building schools or markets. Or making better roads to get access to these rural areas. In this way we can help these communities to improve their lives – and to build back better than before.”
Sara takes us to see the ruins of her family’s home on the outskirts of Beira. Only a few walls are still standing and there is still no roof. Local crops have been decimated and their future is uncertain.
“I really hope things will return to normal,” says Sara, hugging Idai close to her chest.
Faith in action
There is still much work to be done to support families like Sara’s to rebuild their hopes, their schools, their clinics and their jobs. But this is possible because people like you put their faith into action – demonstrating that no one should be beyond reach of the emergency aid they need to survive disasters like Cyclone Idai.
Together we can help to build a better future for children across Southern Africa like baby Idai. Thank you so much for showing them your love.
This story appears in the summer issue of Side by Side magazine.