Cyclone Idai: When tears don’t even scratch the surface

 Mozambique
 Emergency Response
 4th Apr 2019

Jennifer Bose, Emergency Communications Officer, CARE

I am dead tired, but I can’t sleep. The helicopter noise is still buzzing in my ears. Hundreds of families are on my mind, waiting patiently in line for aid but remaining empty-handed once we ran out of supplies. Thoughts about tomorrow’s endless to-do list are make me sleepless.

The situation is bad. About two weeks ago, Cyclone Idai devastated vast areas in central Mozambique. Not only did it destroy roads and homes but also killed hundreds of people. Dozens are still missing, thousands were injured.

Yesterday, I met Isabel. The 60-year-old was sitting in front of one of the tents that CARE set up for displaced families on an empty ground that used to be a football field. Like everyone else in the camp, she had lost her home in the aftermath of the cyclone. But, even worse, it was also the cyclone that took away her daughter. “When the wind and the tides came, I took my grandchildren and ran as quickly as I could. We joined other villagers and ran to a school building where we stayed for the night. Everything was so hectic and I did not even realize that my daughter was missing. It wasn’t until the next morning when I started looking for her and went back to our house. All I found was rubble. And amidst that, I found my daughter,” she says.

What struck me the most was how she told me her story. Any mother would probably be deeply shaken by the loss of her child and burst into tears.

Not Isabel.

She told her story as if she was reading out loud a newspaper article. At first, I didn’t understand. I was wondering why she didn’t tell me how she felt. Why I couldn’t see any expression on her face. But then I began to realize that Isabel might have been too afraid to allow her grieve to shine through. That she maybe wanted to look strong in front of her grandchildren. That tears may not even scratch the surface of the depth of her sadness.

Hundreds of women like Isabel live in the camp. Most of them seem happy to have a roof over their heads again, even though it’s only a sheet of plastic. For the past two weeks many of them sought refuge in school buildings, hospitals, on top of buildings or even trees, in desperate hopes to protect themselves from the floods. In some parts of the country, water levels were as high as 8 meters.

More than 140,000 people now sleep in temporary accommodation centers across the affected areas in Mozambique. Almost everyone I have spoken to wants to return home – even though many don’t have a home to which to return, having lost their house and belongings.

CARE is working around the clock to distribute tents, mats, blankets and hygiene packages. The floods make it difficult for aid workers to reach people in need of assistance. We have to rely on helicopters and boats, which has proved to not only be a logistical challenge but also a very costly undertaking. To continue our aid operations in this race against time, we still require a lot of support.

Donate today, and help CARE support those affected by Cyclone Idai. Every amount helps.

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