After the cyclone

How do you describe returning to a city that has been hit by a cyclone?

In terms of the physical damage? Roofs with tarpaulins over or just the wooden beams showing. Trees with several branches missing. Billboards with just the frames standing (or lying partly in the road!). Streetlamps and telegraph poles bent and twisted. Thankfully now the traffic lights are generally working, but they weren’t when I first came back.

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View from our office

Or in terms of the people? Settling back generally into friendships with people after four months away. Being part of my church here again. People’s reactions after the cyclone. And on this last point, there are three things in particular that I would like to share with you.

 

Hunger

The Maputo branch of the Mozambican Baptist Convention has made up food kits to be distributed to the most needy among the churches here. I have been involved in some of this distribution, and one lady really stood out to me. She was making with her hands the normal gesture here to say thank you, and just said one word – “Fome”. Hunger.

Not just feeling peckish because it’s coming up to lunchtime, or because you’re bored and decide to make a snack or thinking about what to have for dinner. But real gnawing hunger. The kind that comes from not having the regular meals that so many of us take for granted. Something that many people in Mozambique have to face on a daily basis anyway, but of course exacerbated by a disaster like this.

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Food kit distribution

 

Trust in God

“When you go through deep waters,

I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty,

you will not drown.

When you walk through the fire of oppression,

you will not be burned up;

the flames will not consume you.”

This quote, from Isaiah 43, was posted on our church WhatsApp group in Beira less than three weeks after Cyclone Idai hit. By someone who had also recently been ill with malaria.

In one of my first services here, the psalm read was Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” A psalm that many of you will be familiar with and one that’s often sung in various ways. But it does take on a new significance when being read by a congregation many of whom lost the roofs of their houses.

 

Giving

I’ve also been amazed by people’s generosity and desire to help others. In my church here, where no one is well off anyway and many people suffered themselves as a result of the cyclone, there has been a collection of clothing and other items for those in a different area who suffered even more.

And I know that many of you in England have given money towards those affected by Cyclone Idai, so thank you.

Even though Cyclone Idai has disappeared from the main headlines, sadly the effects are not as quick to overcome. Please continue to remember all those whose lives have been changed by the cyclone.

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People carrying on with life despite the difficulties