For 24 hours last weekend, Cyclone Batsirai wreaked havoc on the island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. From late Saturday until late Sunday (6 February 2022), the storm battered the south-eastern corner of this desperately poor country, which was already in an official state of emergency due to another cyclone two weeks earlier.
At least 111 people died, mainly drowned or crushed when their houses collapsed. Already underdeveloped, much of the country’s infrastructure has been wrecked, with roads and bridges impassable, and schools, hospitals and at least 6,000 homes destroyed.
The impoverished churches have also suffered great losses. The Anglican Church alone has lost at least 81 church buildings, six schools and 13 pastors’ houses as well as homes of church members – all damaged or completely destroyed last Sunday by the wind and rain. Doubtless the other denominations have suffered similar devastation.
The terrible irony is that southern Madagascar has suffered repeated droughts in recent years, causing severe hunger and even deaths from starvation as crops failed. Now the rain has fallen in such quantities that the growing rice was destroyed by flooding. (In Madagascar rice is normally cultivated without the fields lying underwater all the time.)
The World Food Programme is already feeding the displaced cyclone victims, but who will help the Christians rebuild for ministry? Who will help them replant their rice?
“Cyclone Batsirai has gone, leaving Madagascar with disasters,” wrote a Malagasy church leader to Barnabas Fund on Monday, as he thanked us for our prayers.
Will you help us to respond with a practical gift for the poor Christians of Madagascar to rebuild their churches, houses, schools and lives?
Emergency aid for church members who have lost their homes and crops: £37 ($50; €44) per family
Building materials cost:
2 kg of nails £3.70 ($5; €4.40)
1 bag of cement £8.80 ($11.80; €10.40)
1 school door £15 ($20; €18)
1 metal roofing sheet £26 ($35; €31)
The cost per building varies with its size and the extent of the damage but some typical costs are:
To rebuild a primary school £1,300 ($1,785; €1,600)
To rebuild a pastor’s house £1,600 ($2,200; €1,900)
To rebuild a church £1,800 ($2,500; €2,200)