Just a few weeks ago Cyclone Idai hit Southern Africa, causing catastrophic damage and leaving pain and devastation in its wake. Idai is one of the worst tropical cyclones ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, and it is estimated that over 2.5 million people in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe have been affected. The death toll is now more than 1,000 and expected to rise as search and rescue efforts continue for the thousands still missing. Countless more have lost their homes, their possessions, their crops, and their livelihoods.

Svodeso Mbundinga is one of many whose lives were upended by Idai. In the Chikomo village in the Zaka district of Zimbabwe, Svodeso is a widow, mother, and grandmother. At around 8:00 p.m. on March 16, 2019, she was startled by terrifying crashing sounds outside of her house. When she ventured out to assess the damage, she saw that half of the house had been completely reduced to rubble—her granddaughter and two grandsons were still inside. Thankfully she was able to rescue the children and rush them to safety at a neighbour’s home. All of her family’s food stuffs were ruined in the flooding left by the heavy downpour. There is still a high risk that as the rain continues to pound the area more damage will ravage the remains of her house, leaving her and her family completely homeless.

With the blue, yellow, and orange colours of sunset behind them, a Zimbabwean man and woman with their three small children stand next to the rubble of their home, which was destroyed by Cyclone Idai.
Owen Kutadza, his wife Realise Charuka and three children standing beside what remains of their home.
Credit: 
ZCC-CC Masvingo

Though Svodeso’s situation, has been registered with the government they have yet to deliver the assistance her family needs. Zimbabawe’s government does not have the financial resources to effectively respond to a natural disaster of this scale. Unfortunately, many families in the region are facing similar hardships. Owen Kutadza, his wife Realise Charuka and three children are another, of the many families, that had their home and food stocks destroyed by Idai. That is why the need for aid is so critical. Recovery of lost family members, provision of basic necessities, and the hope to repair and rebuild damaged infrastructure will not be possible without help.

In Zimbabwe, United Church Mission & Service partner the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) member of ACT Alliance have been working on the ground to provide relief to the thousands of families like Svodeso’s left homeless by Cyclone Idai. Their immediate relief response prioritizes the hardest hit areas in the eastern part of the country. ZCC is working to supply tents, clothing, blankets, food, clean water, critical medical aid, psychosocial support for those displaced, and protective clothing for rescue volunteers.

However, great assistance is still required. The risk of cholera and other disease outbreaks loom due to water contamination. Children remain particularly vulnerable as many have been separated from their families. Donations to the United Church’s Cyclone Idai appeal support partners like ZCC so they can continue to provide lifesaving assistance and the hope for future rebuilding.

Your gifts made to the Cyclone Idai Appeal between March 15 and April 15, 2019 can be doubled by the Canadian government. Please pray for those impacted by Cyclone Idai and give to emergency relief efforts.

—Compiled by Japhet Ndhlovu, Program Coordinator, Southern Africa and South Asia Partnerships at the General Council Office.