On the night of March 14th, the freakishly powerful Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, devastating the city of Beira and its outskirts. Within a few days, our teams were on the ground to provide support to the disaster victims. These are their testimonies.
If the passage of the cyclone was a difficult moment to live, with the loss of a loved one for some, the aftermath is just as hard. All describe the situation as utterly destitute, with the loss of homes, crops or livestock, dragging entire livelihoods into the rubble.
They have found refuge in displacement camps such as Tica or Mafambisse.
They have lost everything and now depend on aid to provide for their basic needs: shelter, water, food and protection from illnesses such as cholera. The water-borne disease has made its first appearance in the area, a few days after the cyclone.
Javier and Anabela, husband and wife, Mafambisse camp
”We were struck by the cyclone, destroying our house completely. The next day, we settled in a house on stilts, but we did not imagine the water would flood it so fast. We climbed up a tree, and we were scared because we don’t know how to swim. We stayed five days on the tree before we were rescued. We were extremely weak and we were cold. We were scared for our children. Cobras climbed in the tree because of the rising water, I found one in my children’s clothes.
Anabela arrived in the camp with the children before me. I arrived after. They first saved the wives and the children. We are farmers from the other side of the river. From now on, we are expecting the government’s help. We hope they will give us another field, so we can leave the camp.”
Luiss, 27, Tica camp
”My name is Luiss, I’m 27. I’ve been in the camp with my parents, brothers and sisters for two weeks. We have lost everything because of the cyclone. The toughest is the loss of our livestock. My father has a serious heart condition and needs treatment. I can’t find the right healthcare.
After the passage of the cyclone, we waited for four hours on the top of a tree. We were very scared, but I knew some people in the camp who waited for three entire days, sometimes with children.
We need more help to recover. I don’t want to lose hope.”
Mugabe, 31, Tica camp
”I’ve been in the camp for about a week. We are living a difficult time. I lost a brother because of the cyclone.
We are in short supply of everything. We hope to have an access to drinking water soon because we are also short on this.
I lost everything because of the cyclone. The wind took the roof of my house then the water came in and took everything: our furniture, our memories. Even my books. I could not take a single one with me.
Today, I am trying to find a job to bring food for my family. I feel lost because we are short on help. I’m scared for the future.”
Luisa Fernando, from provincial Beira, currently in Mafambisse camp
”My house collapsed during the night and my daughter was hurt in the eye. We arrived on March 15th in this camp. I’m alone with my four children, my husband left a long time ago. We have lost everything. I was living off my rice paddy but it is now flooded. I have no idea of what I’m going to do.
I’m going to stay in the camp with my children for the moment because I have no solutions. I hope we will be brought more help. We are short of food and clothes.”
OUR ACTION IN MOZAMBIQUE
These accounts were gathered during the days following our team’s arrival on the ground. Since then, our emergency team has been to Tica camp to provide drinking water access to disaster victims, and in the Mafambisse camp where they organised a dignity kit distribution. Actions in the Beira area are ongoing.
Help the cyclone survivors
Photo: Reuters/ Siphiwe Sibeko