Maddie Conley, Online Editor
Earlier this month, destruction ripped through the country of Mozambique in Southeast Africa. It came in the form of the roaring flood waters also known as Cyclone Idai.
In an interview with Vox, President Filipe Nyusi stated that while the official death toll in Mozambique is less than 100, likely more than 1,000 people died.
While the damage may seem distant for many students who are far removed from the devastation, students from Mozambique, Dinah Chitlango, Laura Almieda and Olinda Mabunda, are feeling the effects.
The days leading up to the flood, Almieda and her family were praying. “The morning where it was supposed to hit, we started seeing pictures and it was really hard,” she said.
None of the women are from Beira, where the flood mainly hit, but Chitlango pointed out that many people connected to her church lost everything. Mabunda added that she has friends that were affected by Idai. “I have many friends from there and so it actually did hit me a lot, especially because I know what floods can do,” Mabunda said.
She pointed out that there have been smaller floods near her home in Maputo which did destroy things, however, none were this large. “Cyclones are not scarce, but Cyclone Idai was something we did not expect,” Mabunda said.
Not only was Mozambique affected by the cyclone, but Malawi and Zimbabwe were hit as well. According to American Magazine, 1.8 million people have been affected overall—half of them being children displaced from their families or even orphaned. “There are so many kids…I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now,” Almieda said.
Although the cyclone was weeks ago, Mozambique is still struggling. Many people are still without homes, missing family members and now facing disease and infection such as cholera.
“Every time I go online I see a new post,” Chitlango said. “Even though the cyclone passed, the effects are rising. Every day it seems like there’s a new problem. The more I see, the more heartbreaking it gets.”
The added factor of being far from home, has added another challenge for the three international students. “It’s hard to be here; I feel kind of disconnected,” Almieda said. “I wish I could be there praying in church or helping people.”
Mabunda echoed Almieda’s sentiment, but added, “one thing that always comforts me is that I don’t need to be there to pray.”
Being in the U.S. during the crisis back home, Almieda recognized a gap in the way the news of her country has been covered as opposed to American news.
“In African countries in general, I feel like when bad things happen in those places it’s very different than if something had happened in the U.S. or Europe,” she said. “That’s not to say we shouldn’t use those hashtags or pray for them—that’s good. But, when it comes to African countries, where are the hashtags, where is the support?”
Almieda, Chitlango and Mabunda are grateful for the support they have in each other being able to relate to each other’s grief. “I talk to my friends back home all the time about what’s happening, but the other day I had a conversation with Olinda about it and it was just different. She was right there and we could feel each other’s pain,” Chitlango said.
The students encourage anyone who is interested in supporting Mozambique to reach out to them for ways to help.
Chitlango ended by saying, “This is going to impact Mozambique for years and the more help we can get, the better.”