Support for Southern Africa After Cyclone Idai

Earlier this month, thousands of people in southern Africa were impacted by Cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical storms on record in the region. We at FIUTS are heartbroken for our students who have been affected, and we have heard from many members of our community asking how they can help. Several of our alumni of the FIUTS SUSI on Civic Engagement with Southern Africa have contributed their perspectives and photos, and sent recommendations for organizations that are accepting donations to provide relief on the ground. Please read the stories below and at the end of the post, you can find a list of recommended places to donate. Please keep these students, their communities and their countries in your thoughts as they deal with the devastation and work to rebuild.

From Jessica Alface, Mozambique, SUSI 2019:

Above: Jessica volunteering with the relief effort  Below: Volunteers assembling supplies at the port in Maputo

Above: Jessica volunteering with the relief effort

Below: Volunteers assembling supplies at the port in Maputo

I’m really horrified about what’s happening to Mozambique right now, in the affected regions such as Sofala and a small part of Zambézia . Today I heard the news and my heart ached because they interviewed a women with 3 small children who stayed on top of a tree for 4 days without food and water , a man looking for his dead wife’s body so that he can bury her with dignity, and many other horrifying examples I can give . Almost 90% of the city of Beira is destroyed. Something positive I’ve noticed is the emphatic attitude of the citizens of the other parts of the country that are willing to organize first aid kits and donate to the victims. Tomorrow I’m not going to school and going to the port and help load the ship that is going to take : first aid kits, clothing , food and water to Sofala province, I’m going to wear my MLK t- shirt from Seattle because of the inspiring quote, and it reminds me of Rafael that at this moment is living a bad situation in his life. I feel so happy that our voice will be heard and people from all of the world are showing that they care. The only thing I want to ask is a prayer for the country of Mozambique. As I said at the motivational speech day: “I believe in hope , because is a motivation to keep moving forward.”

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From Kudzaishe Chidakwa, Zimbabwe, SUSI 2018:

For the average Zimbabwean, being in a landlocked country, we have never worried much about being in the path of any huge weather related catastrophes but the events of the last few weeks have really brought things into perspective. While it showed us that we need to do more to be prepared, it also showed what great things can be accomplished when people come together. Sadly the cyclone has left in its wake a trail of destruction that includes mud and land slides, bridges to remote and far places are damaged, families, school children, women, men, livestock all killed or displaced. People had little to no time to prepare for what was coming and some only survived with the clothes on their back. It has been heartbreaking to hear of of children and others caught under rubble or succumbing to injuries even after being rescued because hospitals are severely under capitalized nationally and moreso those in the remote districts. Citizens from all corners of the country and many well wishers continue to pour in their support for the affected victims including Civil Society organizations by mobilizing donations of cash and kind and getting them airlifted to the affected areas. The road to recovery and rebuilding will be long, but I am hopeful together, we will.


Photos: Manicaland, Zimbabwe, taken from a civilian helicopter

Official stats: #CycloneIdai update : Number of casualties in Zimbabwe as of 20/03/19 :
Total deaths 139, missing 189, injured 144, marooned 136. Verified by Ministry of Information:

To see the extent of the damage, check out @DavidColtart’s Tweet:

From Rafael Sizane, Mozambique, SUSI 2019:

“All I need is people praying for us and sending us all positive energy possible, because we really need it.”

Note: Rafael, whose home and community have been significantly impacted by the flooding, shared the photos below. He and his family are safe. Please keep them in your thoughts.

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From Leocádia Fernandes Valoi, Mozambique, SUSI 2017:

“Today I woke up as if the centre of my country, Mozambique, had not been swallowed by the most violent cyclone of the last decade. The general commotion begins to fade and people gradually begin to be unable to help more because they have their own lives to continue.

Part of the country perished, literally swallowed by the waters. There are more than a thousand dead, as the president said, but I'm sure they are even more because the hospitals were also affected and can not yet count how many patients had to be shut down due to lack of electricity. We are now beginning to receive more real news and unfortunately having to bury the dead while taking care of the living.

Only yesterday a friend had contact with her father after almost a week of silence and no network connectivity. The roads are also destroyed.

I am not in the Center of Mozambique and at this moment, I can only continue to try to help from afar. Here in the South youth is at the forefront of one of the greatest solidarity movements ever. We are moving and in 1 week food, medicines, hygiene products and cleaning products were packaged by more than 1,000 volunteers who gathered at Maputo Port and at various other donation points.

The city of Beira was eliminated by almost 90% and several districts of Sofala and Manica were also taken by water. Electricity, clean water, communication, are only now beginning to be restored. All schools were closed at least in that city.

Those who are far away can also help by forming other groups to collect and send donations or by sending monetary amounts to credible accounts (listed below). In a long term, we have a whole city to rebuild and hundred and thousand families to feed, protect and assure their most fundamental rights.

From Anesu Shadaya, Zimbabwe, SUSI 2019:

“Sustainable Development Goal 4 addresses quality education. In Zimbabwe we have upper top schools built before and after independence. This gave us our right to education, especially in remote areas such as Chimanimani. However due to devastating effects of cyclone Idai the eastern part of Zimbabwe such as Chimanimani is in shambles schools have been destroyed. It's sad to note some of the students had to walk more than 15km carrying dead bodies of their counterparts. There's urgent need engage professional counsellors, schools need to be rebuild as well as acquiring all required material such as text books.”

CALL TO ACTION: The SUSI students have recommended the following organizations that are helping with the relief effort on the ground. We are passing along their recommendations for members of our community who would like to offer their support.

The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, promote a better understanding of the people, institutions, and culture of the United States among foreign students, teachers, and scholars. Study of the U.S. Institutes are short-term academic programs for groups of undergraduate leaders, educators, and scholars from around the world.

Guest posts on the FIUTS blog represent the experiences and views of individual writers. They do not necessarily reflect the views of FIUTS or any organizations or institutions affiliated with our programs.

Ellen Frierson