I’m hot and miserable. It’s dark and my feet are aching. I can hardly see where I’m going, slogging through sticky mud and slipping off narrow trails. I can’t recognize anything around me. I’m soaking with perspiration. My eyes are getting blurry from fatigue and jetlag. My head aches. I’m so hungry and thirsty. I’m sore and itchy all over. The are no words to describe how much I want to get home, clean up, sit down, and eat and drink. But I don’t know when that will be. I’m trying to follow a couple of Mozambicans who seem to know their way back to our base, but I can’t believe how long it’s taking.
All afternoon our little Iris band has been on foot in countryside villages meeting with survivors of Cyclone Idai, a powerful storm that has left three million people in need of life-saving help. The wind and rain were merciless. The already poverty-stricken villagers clung to each other as roofs were ripped off and their household belongings were blown away by 120 mph gusts. Not a pot or a blanket or a change of clothes were left for many. All got scattered over the fields and soaked in driving rain. Walls collapsed as foundations weakened in soft, wet ground. Hut after hut became a wrecked pile of broken sticks and twisted tin.
We heard stories. One old blind man lived in a shabby hut with his wife who fed and took care of him. But the storm destroyed their house, and his wife was killed by flying debris. Afterward neighbours came by and built him a simple lean-to shelter with scattered pieces of wood so he could sit out of the rain. But now his wife is no more and he is truly alone. What is his future? Untold others died in the storm, probably thousands. Bodies are floating in the floodwaters. Crops are washed away. An entire harvest is gone. Roads are impassable. Clean water cannot be found.
Large areas are twenty and even thirty feet under water. The devastation stretches for hundreds of kilometres across three provinces and also Zimbabwe and Malawi. This is the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere. The United Nations has never had to coordinate such a massive relief effort before. 1.8 million people were already facing critical food shortage before the cyclone. Now their meagre supplies and possessions are wiped out. For more information or to donate to the appeal to assist those devastated by the cyclone go to www.irisglobalaustralia.org
Source: Rolland and Heidi BakerPrint This Post