In the immediate aftermath of Cyclone IDAI, Mozambique’s government and its disaster-response agencies assessed the scale of damage done and made plans to alleviate the suffering of the people.
The Church got going faster than most, with an organized and practical response. Bishops set up, and closely accompanied, response teams. Frustrated with too many meetings and too little action, Beira’s archbishop, Dom Claudio Dalla Zuanna, purchased food with his own funds to help the people.
The Spiritan family in Ireland and Portugal responded rapidly and generously. Monies raised were destined firstly to ensure people’s safety and survival, as well as to provide food and clothing. Donations – which are greatly appreciated – from Spiritans and friends of the Spiritans in Ireland have been channelled through Fr. Raphael Gasimba M. Afr., a member of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) and Dom João Carlos Nunes, the Bishop of Chimoio. Fr. Raphael had a remarkable escape when the main road collapsed underneath him as he was driving. He swam safely out of his old pick-up in deep water but over 80 of his parishioners were among those who died in the flooding.
Materials bought to help survivors included 1,000 blankets; these were invaluable heading into the cold season. Other items funded were seeds and tools for use in cultivating vegetable gardens during the dry season, helping the people whose crops were all destroyed but who are determined to feed themselves. Re-designed tents giving better protection were provided too by the Bishop of Chimoio while many Mozambicans, in areas that escaped, sent food and clothing to those who were affected.
It looks like it will take years for towns and cities to fully recover. The re-building of houses, which will need to be re-roofed in a way that addresses the weaknesses exposed by this year’s extreme weather, will be an expensive and lengthy task. However, everybody is determined to get this right!
John Kingston C.S.Sp.
6th August 2019