“The devastation was everywhere: trees ripped from the soil by the roots, houses with tin roofs cut open and bent into shapes resembling the results of a bomb blast. We were the first responders to this area and these people had been waiting for help to arrive for eleven days.” – Clint Kimble of Barnabas Fund, reporting from Mozambique last month
When Cyclone Idai struck south-eastern Africa in the middle of March, it was Mozambique that suffered worst, with 1.85 million people affected. Confirmed deaths from the cyclone now stand at over 1,000 of which 602 are in Mozambique. The total death toll may never be known. To make things worse, cholera has broken out and the Mozambican government has recorded 4,072 cases so far, with seven deaths.
Cut off and waiting days for aid
Barnabas Fund’s Clint Kimble, from our South African office, was soon on the ground in Mozambique, helping to deliver emergency aid. For many, it was the first aid they had received. Even last week, new groups of isolated people, cut off by the flooding, were still being discovered almost daily in rural areas.
A wall of water on both sides
“I could only imagine how terrified the people were as a wall of water rushed past this island community on both sides as the rivers rose,” writes Clint, describing a large island with a river on each side, where at least 30,000 were trapped. Trees were ripped from the soil, crops destroyed, houses – mostly made of sticks – washed away. The aid that Clint and local partners brought was ferried across the river in little boats made of tree bark and hollowed out tree trunks.
God hears the prayers of His people
Sylvia, who lives on the island, explained to Clint how the terrible storm had unexpectedly passed through her village. Just when she thought the worst was over, at around 1.00 a.m., the entire village heard the incredible sound of water rushing towards them. Many people ran to the safety of a church building on higher ground and waited for the water to hit. Almost all the villagers were huddled together in silence in the church, expecting to disappear, as winds and raging waters dragged away the walls and roof of the church until only its frame remained.
During those dark hours, when the only sound to be heard was the surging river, risen at least 20 metres higher than normal, Pastor Ernesto prayed for God to spare the people. Sylvia prayed that the water would not sweep them away, and clutched her two children. When morning came, all the villagers were alive but everything they owned had vanished. Sylvia praised God that He had kept her family safe.
Barnabas Fund is currently committed to helping 3,000 flood-affected families living in rural areas near the port city of Beira. Working through local Christian partners, we are also helping 1,000 single-parent families (widows and widowers) and 500 people who are disabled or in other ways particularly disadvantaged. The food packs are of various sizes according to their different needs.
A general food parcel for a family (typical size six people) contains 25kg maize, 10kg beans, six cans of fish, five litres cooking oil, 500g salt, soap and water purification drops. This costs £42 ($55; €48).
We are assisting a total of around 23,000 people in the first phase. Please help us to help them.