“Water just wouldn’t stop falling. Our house was on the verge of collapse, so my wife I picked up the kids and left for high ground. It was awful to see our lifelong efforts, our home, wash away like that. But we are lucky, at least our whole family is safe.” – João* 34, father of four (*name changed for anonymity)
These are the words of a survivor. After Cyclone Idai wrought havoc on Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, not everyone was as lucky as João. The intense tropical storm left more than 1,000 dead, thousands still missing, and hundreds of thousands displaced.
For many reasons, including the difficulty of travel to that area, this disaster has received little coverage in mainstream media. But the needs in that region are urgent. Even in the ongoing search for the missing, the rush to meet basic needs for survivors is overwhelming relief organizations. And, as is often the case, pre-existing infrastructure issues make those efforts even more challenging. With little power, few roads, and limited communication, getting resources to all the locations in need proved almost impossible. Now, several weeks after the initial event, complications begin to arise and create secondary crises. Contaminated water sources mean that cholera is beginning to spread throughout some communities. And now, with over a million acres of crops lost to flooding, hunger is a growing concern.
Clovis Mwambutsa, Emergency Team Member with ACT Alliance’s Lutheran World Federation, remarks: “All around Manica, Cyclone Idai has left an image of desolation. It will take years to restore infrastructure and recover livelihoods. For now, our immediate worry is to bring relief to those most affected and preventing the outbreak of disease”
With support from Week of Compassion, ACT Alliance is providing clean water, food, health services and basic shelter to those who most desperately need it.
Meanwhile, the United Church of Christ in Mozambique headquarters were located in Beira, the community in the center of the cyclone and the hardest hit area. In addition to taking part in the efforts to mobilize relief to those who need it, UCCM is using their own headquarters-- which was severely damaged--as the hub for organizing supplies. Through Global Ministries, Week of Compassion has provided emergency grants to support these efforts to bring relief in spite of overwhelming challenges. Working closely with Global Ministries and our partners, we help provide support wherever there is need in the world, and lift up communities in prayer in times of suffering.
For such a time as this, God calls us to work together to meet the needs of those who have lost so much. While the site of devastation lies half a world away, we know that we are all one human family; making the love of Christ known through our prayers, our presence, and our gifts to those in need. The recovery efforts will take months, and rebuilding again will take years. Week of Compassion will continue to support immediate relief to meet basic needs, and we are also committed to ongoing meaningful presence through the stages of rebuilding.
If you would like to support the communities in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi that have been affected by Cyclone Idai, please visit our website; gifts may be designated for “hurricane/cyclone/typhoon.” Know that anything you share will help our partners on the ground bring relief where it is most needed.
Meanwhile, we lift this prayer as a sign of hope, and a call to action. Thank you for joining us in a spirit of love, prayer, and generosity:
God of Creation--you spoke, and there was light.
One word, and you ordered the stars;
you separated heaven from earth, and you filled the world with life.
We know that you made all things, and abide in all things.
And yet, there are days when it feels that all earth is in chaos.
When human violence destroys the innocent--hear our prayer for peace.
When the flood washes away life as we knew it--lead us to still waters.
When fires rage--send your calming rains.
When high winds tear down what we have built--give us strength to build again.
Where your people are hurting-- send us with a word of hope; a sign of peace; and the water of life. Bless this body to be your One Body in the world. Amen.