Relief in the Midst of Ruin
Imagine living in a small village on the Southeast coast of Africa. You work in the fields every day, and you have to walk 3 miles from your house to get clean drinking water. One day out of nowhere gusting winds and flash floods begin, and you have to climb up into a tree and stay there for days to survive. You pray the tree you are resting on does not fall like many trees around you. Once the storm calms, you go to where your house once stood, but all that is left is a pile of debris. You go to get water from the well you always used, and you learn from another local that people who were drinking from that well were getting sick and dying of cholera. You are trying to have hope, but everything seems hopeless. This story was one told by many when the World Hope International relief team landed in Mozambique.
In mid-March, Mozambique was hit by cyclone Idai, causing devastation for the people destroying their houses, fields, and livelihoods. World Hope International had the opportunity to partner with three other organizations, Amazon, Katadyn, and Airlink, to bring relief to the people in Mozambique. Without relief from organizations and people around the world, disasters like cyclone Idai would be even more ruinous.
The team of 6 from WHI were trained and ready to help fight against the aftermath effects of the cyclone. Airlink provided the air travel for the team, getting them to Beira, Mozambique. Katadyn and Amazon provided water filters that could be used to clean the water and protect survivors from the second crisis of a cholera outbreak. Together, these organizations were ready to equip Beira citizens with essentials such as clean water and food. The diversity of skills and partnerships came together to prepare the team for the relief tasks ahead.
The task was daunting and the first impressions of the storm left the team saddened by the devastation. Joseph Phillippe, who grew up internationally and acted as a translator speaking Portuguese, described what they saw when they first arrived in Beira. He said, “I have personally seen the devastation done by tornados here in the US- this looked like tornado damage times 100. Everywhere you looked, houses, buildings, infrastructure, vegetation, were completely destroyed.”
Without the different skills from the team members and the access to the water filters, the trip would not have been a successful one. Orai Lehman described the importance of the partnerships with Katadyn and Amazon who supplied the water filters, “Having those connections and those partnerships, gave an immediate resource that was available to help with one of the biggest needs, which was pure water.
Because in the case of a catastrophe like that, one of the greatest needs is to supply water, the cyclone destroys the existing water systems and contaminates even wells and that kind of thing. So immediately, there’s a huge danger of waterborne diseases, such as cholera. Having a resource like a connection with institutions that are able to supply the filters, gives just an immediate connection that was a great help in this case, as is in many other similar cases.”
Eric Jacobs, a retired fireman, was trained by World Hope to demonstrate to the villagers how to use the water filters. Eric believed they did not just provide water filters but also hope. He saw the hope in the resiliency of the people, noting, “they’ve always had what I saw was the ability to rebuild and start, new. As the days went on, you could see that life was coming back into the city and went from roads being blocked to the life of the city coming back. And one night, they had a big festival, and that was the first time that ever happened since the storm.”
The unique skills each individual brought to the team allowed for the trip to bring hope to those who were in a hopeless situation. Partnerships are so important when it comes to providing relief after disasters.
Although it is important to go and be physically present in the recovery phase, not everyone can drop everything and fly to Mozambique. Mitchell Beattie, who went on the trip as a photographer and videographer, explained there are things anyone can do from home to be involved. Mitchell said, “finances are such a big thing. These real disaster relief and sustainability projects are happening everywhere. There are so many people that need to be reached. So finances are probably one of the big drivers. I think, sharing the awareness in terms of the stories that we’re bringing back. It could be as simple as clicking that share button on social media which somebody might get ahold of, and it kind of tugs at their
These partnerships made a difference in the lives of many, and the water filters distributed will continue to make a difference. Disastrous stories like the cyclone in Mozambique will continue to happen, but as long as there are resources and partnerships, there will always be hope.