In March 2019 a tropical cyclone of huge strength hit central Mozambique with a powerful force destroying homes and lives in a few hours. The gale force winds uprooted ancient trees, tore grass houses apart, lifted roofs and even crumbled block buildings. The rivers became mighty deluges breaking their banks and flooding great swathes of land. Hundreds of poor people lost their lives most of whom drowned in the raging torrents and thousands of homes including all material possessions disappeared. The ones that survived did so by climbing trees where they remained for 3 days until the waters subsided a little. No family was untouched by the horror of cyclone Idai. Families lost children, mothers, fathers, grandparents. Whole livelihoods were wiped out. In an area of subsistence farming families saw their crops destroyed under the mighty waters.
In response Charis partnered with friends and other missionaries to bring crisis help to the most vulnerable. Initially along with friends in Vilanculos, Charis sent up food, water buckets, mats, clothes, blankets and medicines. So many widows and families in need lost their homes and as people realized the full extent of the disaster, God moved hearts to give generously, resulting in the building of 300 new houses by the end of 2019, praise God!
The Charis team made regular trips to the cyclone area, which lies about 8 hours north of Vilanculos. Each journey was incredibly challenging on roads full of potholes, on sand roads ruined by the floods, which took its toll on our vehicles. Flat tyres, a broken spring, lost part of a bumper, damaged wheels… Bandua was the locus of our base camp and 3 hours off the beaten track unused to visitors especially foreign ones! Our camp was basic and from October became vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. Incredible heat, monsoon rains and gale-force winds hampered our trips, destroying the camp a number of times. They were certainly tests of perseverance and endurance!
In June we were privileged to have a short term team come out from the UK to serve alongside us amongst the poor and vulnerable of Mozambique. They were such a blessing in Bandua ministering amongst the kids of the resettlement camps with music, interactive songs, dance and much fun!