Christian ministries rally to aid of cyclone victims in Southern Africa

A general view shows destruction after Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique. (PHOTO:  Care International/Josh Estey via Reuters)

Christian Aid is appealing for donations as it assists communities affected by Cyclone Idai, which has killed hundreds and devastated communities across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, reports Christian Today.

The charity is providing emergency assistance to communities affected by the cyclone but it also wants to build resilience to help them be better prepared for when the next big storm strikes.

Over 2.5 million people have been affected by severe flooding and power outages triggered by the cyclone, which Clare Nullis, of the UN’s weather agency, said was “shaping up to be one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere”.

The President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi said the death toll in his country alone could exceed 1 000.

While the full impact of Idai is not yet known, Christian Aid also expects large-scale damage to road networks, water and sanitation infrastructure, telecommunications, schools and health facilities.

One of the immediate dangers is water-borne diseases, but people will also need help in rebuilding their homes and livelihoods.

For farmers, the impact has also been devastating, with fields under water and recently planted crops decimated.

In some areas, like Nsanje in Malawi, the cyclone has only compounded already “dire” food shortages, Christian Aid said.

It is working with partners in Malawi and Zimbabwe to provide food, shelter, clothing, water, healthcare, sanitation, hygiene and psycho-social support services.

However, Nicholas Shamano, Christian Aid’s country director for Zimbabwe, said the charity was also taking a long-term approach to its response.

“The situation is already dire. Lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and property have been lost,” he said.

“The priority now must be on addressing the immediate needs of the affected communities. But we also need to focus on addressing the effects of natural disasters and improve disaster preparedness for communities at risk to ensure resilience to extreme weather systems.”

World Help, which also has partners on the ground responding, asked Christians to pray for those affected.

“People are terrified. They’re wondering if their lives will ever be the same. Please stop whatever you’re doing and pray on behalf of families impacted by this cyclone,” said Vernon Brewer, founder and CEO of World Help.

“Yes, we must provide help so they may survive this disaster, but we also must send them hope through our prayers so they know they are not forgotten and they still have a future.”

Iris Global, an international relief ministry based in Pemba, Mozambique, and headed by missionary Heidi Baker, reports that one of its ministry centres, in Dondo, near Beira, sustained substantial damage, but had prepared for the storm by collecting basic supplies. They, along with an Iris Relief team, are currently providing food and shelter for over 200 people left homeless by the cyclone.

“We are grateful our Iris airplane was able to be one of the first planes in to the area carrying more supplies and volunteers, our centre in Pemba is sending down over 500 000 meals, and the teams in Maputo have also been gathering donations to send to their countrymen. We expect to use the plane a lot in the coming days and weeks as roads, bridges, and other infrastructure has been severely damaged making most other travel impossible,” says Iris Global.

“Our team is uniquely positioned to aid in the immediate recovery, but their greatest needs are food, water, and shelter. We are also committed to the long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts that will surely require extraordinary resources.

“We remember with great hope the revival that followed the tragic floods in 2000 and keep our eyes on Jesus in this difficult time,” it says.

Iris Global invites volunteers to get involved — doctors and translators (from Portuguese to English) are especially needed. To get involved, please click here: www.irisrelief.org/donate

Watch Heidi Baker’s message on cyclone relief efforts:

Anglican News Service reports that the Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, which includes Mozambique and South Africa, the Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, said: “I offer our deepest condolences and express our heartfelt pain at the loss of life and property caused by the destructive effects of Cyclone Idai across southern Africa.

“We want to assure the affected Dioceses in Mozambique – the Diocese of Lebombo led by Bishop Carlos Matsinhe and the Diocese of Niassa led by Bishop Vicente Msosa – of our prayers. Please pray also for the Dioceses in Malawi and Zimbabwe in our neighbouring Province of Central Africa which were affected.”

In his message, Archbishop Thabo has urged Anglicans in Southern Africa to donate to the Province’s Disaster Relief Fund.

“There has been a lot of destruction of all sorts of buildings. Many people have been left with no shelter and no food”, the bishop of Lebombo, Carlos Matsinhe, said. “Consequently health conditions of the people will deteriorate soon. And because this storm has damaged power lines there is no communication so we know very little of the details of destruction.”

The bishop called for prayers, particularly for the Púngue Archdeacony, which is the area most affected. “Pray for the 11 parishes / pastoral zones and their parish priests and lay ministers as they seek wisdom to minister and comfort with God’s word and presence”, he said.

The Bishop of Harare, Chad Gandiya, who was preparing to launch a campaign for improved healthcare provision in Zimbabwe before Cyclone Idai struck, said that many people have been left homeless as a result of the disaster. After visiting a couple of hospitals, he described the situation as desperate.

“I am a member and chairperson of the newly formed organisation called Save Our Hospitals initiative in Zimbabwe set up to help source for what’s urgently required in our hospitals”, he said. “With the help of the clinical directors who are also members of this new organisation, a list of the urgently required medicines and sundries has been produced for each of the major government hospitals. . . We are trying to negotiate with airlines to fly in some of the donations free. We are thus appealing to friends and well-wishers to assist in securing these supplies which are desperately needed.

In a statement, the Save Our Hospitals initiative said that “We have a double crisis on our hands and as we always do, our people are on the forefront doing the best they can to help citizens who are in trouble due to the Cyclone or needing help in our hospitals.”

The campaign has arranged for two UK-based freight companies to fly donated supplies to Zimbabwe.

The Anglican Alliance, the official agency which helps the various national and regional Anglican development agencies work in a coordinated way, has reached out to the bishops in affected dioceses in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe to offer solidarity and prayer at this time.

“It is inspiring to hear how the local dioceses and Mothers’ Union are already mobilising support for the communities impacted by this devastating cyclone”, Executive Director Rachel Carnegie said. “The Anglican Alliance stands ready to liaise with the dioceses on the ground and the wider Anglican Communion in their response to this disaster.”

The current death toll from the disaster is 432: 268 in Mozambique, 98 in Zimbabwe, 56 in Malawi, seven in South Africa, and three in Madagascar. [Note: Gateway News has not been able to independently confirm the South African fatalities mentioned in the ANS report.]

See CBN report on the Cyclone Idai devastation:

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