You will have seen the reports and photos about Mozambique last week. Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, along with Zimbabwe and Malawi, causing massive destruction and leaving devastation in its wake. Cyclone Idai has been described as the largest cyclone ever seen in the southern hemisphere.
Many of you have been in touch with those of us who are working there through the UofS Mozambique Canada Maternal Health project. Our project is located just south of the cyclone’s path, so we were fortunately not affected directly. However, we are contacting the network of people, institutions and organizations, friends, families who are linked in one way or another to Mozambique, urging you to support Mozambique’s efforts for relief and reconstruction.
We urge you to donate and we suggest the following link: http://www.humanitariancoalition.ca. It is a coalition of international Canadian NGOs gathering support for those affected by Cyclona Idai, and you will get a tax receipt.
We have also gathered the following comments and messages from colleagues and friends in Mozambique and Canada.
Dr. António Tanda, Strategic Advisor for the Mozambique Canada Maternal Health Project and long time partner in many health and development projects with U of S Dear Friends, colleagues and all of you who are in solidarity with people of countries with less resources. We just had a human disaster from the Cyclone Idai in the province of Sofala and Manica where many people lost everything, and they need your support and solidarity. We in Mozambique are doing our best to send goods, but the situation is dramatic…they have lost all – food, fuel, clothes, houses, everything needed to survive. We do appreciate any support you can give. Obrigado (thanks) Dr. Antonio Tanda.
Two colleagues – Ruta Massunguine and Argentina Munguambe – who have been to Canada and have family in the City of Beira wrote:
Ruta – I still have had no communication with a large part of my family, I was only able to communicate with one family member who told me they are starving because there is nothing to eat, and the banks do not work to draw money, and it is not possible to get to the family because the route is not accessible.
Argentina – There are a lot of people who lost their lives and some people lost everything. Luckily my family is safe. The city is without light and water. Roads connecting to other cities are cut off, and it continues to rain. We are hopeful that the government will briefly rebuild roads so people can receive food and other things to restart life.
Messages from Jessie Forsyth, Nazeem Muhajarine, Murray Dickson and Don Kossick:
Jessie Forsyth, Canadian Project Director, Mozambique Canada Maternal Health Project Writing from Inhambane, Mozambique, I am very thankful to say that our project team and the wider communities around Inhambane City remain safe. Yet the impacts of Idai are wide ranging and weigh heavily on everyone – some of whom have family and friends in and around Beira, others with connections in Sofala or Manica province or the impacted parts of Zimbabwe, and all of us deeply concerned. The immediate focus is on establishing contact with loved ones in the affected areas and gathering clothing, food, fuel – basic necessities – to get to those most impacted most quickly, while remaining attentive to the long-term reconstruction that’ll remain necessary. The Government of Mozambique declared a state of emergency on March 20 and the destruction continues to worsen daily – with cholera now reported in Beira where running water and electricity remain unavailable and hospitals unable to function. A coordinated emergency response is underway but much more support is needed to stem the immediate and long term effects of this disaster. Please consider reaching out.
Nazeem Muhajarine, Principal investigator, Mozambique Canada Maternal Health Project In less than a week I will be heading to the province of Inhambane in southern Mozambique, where we have a maternal health project funded by Global Affairs Canada. Many of you have inquired whether our project team and communities were affected by Cyclone Idai; I am thankful to say that they were not, directly. However, our team members have family, friends and colleagues in the city of Beira, 90% of which was destroyed by Idai. Beyond this, the huge economic consequences of the cyclone mean that everyone in the country, already one of the poorest in the world, will be impacted. This will be my fifth time in Mozambique in the last two years; this time however, I expect, my visit will be different—I am preparing to go to a country that is experiencing large-scale devastation and loss of human life. It will be a difficult visit. To put the destruction into perspective, imagine a devastation that affects half of all people living in Saskatchewan, my home province—half a million people. That is the scale of destruction in Mozambique right now. There is no precedent of a response to destruction of this magnitude. Each time I visit Mozambique, my understanding and appreciation of the people, land and culture deepen a little more. It is a country that has made tremendous progress since gaining independence in 1975. Our University of Saskatchewan has been bound to Mozambique, through people and partnerships, since the late 1990s; currently we are in an important partnership to improve the lives and health of mothers, girls and communities in Inhambane. (https://maternalhealthmozcan.ca/) It will take many hearts and hands to support our Mozambican sisters and brothers in recovering from this crisis. As a Canadian and as a Saskatchewanian, I appeal to you to contribute generously to the relief efforts in Mozambique through the Humanitarian Coalition (www.humanitariancoalition.ca). Our common humanity calls for nothing less at this time of dire need.
Murray Dickson, former CUSO dentist in Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Mozambique When yesterday’s Globe and Mail arrived and I saw the photograph on the front page, I knew right away that it was of Buzi in Mozambique, and tears came to my eyes. Buzi is two rivers away by boat from Beira where I lived with my late wife, Gerri, and our two young boys for two years (’81-’83), as CUSO cooperants. I was one of two dentists posted to the large port city of Beira near which Cyclone Idai landed. My colleague, João, was from Chile. At that time – 6 years post-independence from Portugal – there were no Mozambican dentists. João and I had a very good arrangement. He was full time in the large and minimally resourced clinic in the provincial capital (Beira), and I was the outreach dentist. I would travel by boat which took most of a day. I very much enjoyed my boat trips with many others, for it was like a ‘water bus’. The trip took much of the day, so there was lots of time and opportunities to chat. For the first couple of months, I was a curiosity for seldom did a ‘branco’ (white) travel this way. Why was I going to Buzi? Where will I sleep? I will stop by and we can talk more, and I will bring you food! I very much enjoyed the travel and my many short stays in Buzi: the sights, the smells, the chatter in local dialect that switched to Portuguese with me. We were mutually curious and I came to know and admire their struggles and achievements, their joys and sorrows, their talents and creativity, their obstacles and determination to overcome them. It pains me to read of the huge scale of devastation with thousands of people stranded on roofs and in trees. They are frail, tired and hungry. There is no water, no food, and they are in the cold at night. We have remained very connected with Mozambique via a series of health focused projects beginning with oral health and moving to preparing health trainers for enhancing community health and development initiatives in Mozambique. And so we have dear Mozambican friends who, as enthusiastic and talented counterparts, have hosted young Canadian students in Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry and Nutrition. Now it is our turn to give back, which is what friends do!
Don Kossick, long-time community organizer and developer in Mozambique and Canada My partner Denise Kouri and I have lived and worked in Mozambique at various times over the last almost 40 years. We have always been impressed by the Mozambique people’s capacity and will to come together and keep going from the internal war caused by Apartheid South Africa, reconstruction from the devastation of that war, terrible weather destruction such as Hurricane Demoina, hugh floods of 2000 and now Cyclone Idai. As they say “a luta continua” – the struggle continues. But we as Canadians can help alleviate some of that struggle both through immediate support now, and what it will take in the long road to recovery.
Estamos Juntos – we are together. Please send on your support for Mozambique through https://www.humanitariancoalition.ca/
Please pass onto others. Thank you. Obrigado.