Buzi River Support Update

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As you may know, in late April, another cyclone hit Mozambique. Some thought it landed in the same place as Cyclone Idai in March. It didn’t. Mozambique is similar in length to the West Coast of the US. If Vilankulo (my home) were Los Angeles, then Cyclone Idai would have hit south of San Francisco and Cyclone Kenneth would have hit Seattle. Kenneth destroyed 90% of the infrastructure on two islands, tore up coastal towns and displaced 18,000. Response operations have mobilized from Beira to Pemba even as the survivors of Idai are at the start of a long road to recovery.

Just after Cyclone Idai, ParCo teamed up to support flooded villages along the Buzi river. Even today, people who lost everything live in muddy patches and walk long distances to access relief. Still others cannot cross high waters to reach relief stations on foot. They wait for helicopters to deliver rations which often fall short of the real need. Hunger is a protracted emergency that will last many months as 500,000 hectares of seasonal harvest were lost under flood waters.

Here is what ParCo have done so far (with lots of help):

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Orlando coordinating distribution in Estaquinha where survivors from nearby villages arrive on foot to carry relief home.

Orlando coordinating distribution in Estaquinha where survivors from nearby villages arrive on foot to carry relief home.

Successes include getting the first lot of relief to many who were rescued near Estaquinha and helping a friend headed to Grudja to provide relief and first aid before international medical teams arrived. We are also proud of Orlando, the volunteer we attached to the International Red Cross mission in Estaquinha. Orlando himself lost his shelter near Beira but wanted to help those less fortunate near Buzi where he grew up. He helped us assess the situation and plan our next phase of response.

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Our efforts were made possible with an outpouring of financial support from friends far and wide from the UK, Brazil, Poland, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, the US and Mozambique. And thanks to local businesses providing transportation and discounting prices we have been able to stretch donations to maximize impact for the survivors.

Our friends Mel and Mandy, missionaries from England who have been helping the most vulnerable families in Vilankulo for decades, have committed to relocating to the Buzi area to aid with recovery in one or two villages. They will be heading up next week for their second visit ahead of relocating on a more permanent basis.

Mel, Mandy and Orlando planning relief to Begaja.

Mel, Mandy and Orlando planning relief to Begaja.

One thing we have learned from our efforts is that the geography of destruction is so far reaching that all efforts are valuable. We have coordinated with others to get relief where it is most needed. Our next goal is to go deeper in a single village. The vast majority of villages will not receive dedicated on-the-ground assistance. But we are partnering with Mel and Mandy to help a uniquely challenged community to access basic health care, clean water and food, and to plant seeds, and rebuild homes and schools. The work will start with the most vulnerable families such as destitute grandparents looking after grandchildren. Our partnership with these dedicated humanitarians fuels us to keep going.

Leader of Os Nweti laying the vocal tracks on his original song of solidarity.

Leader of Os Nweti laying the vocal tracks on his original song of solidarity.

We are also thrilled to have partnered with local musicians to launch an album of solidarity as a fund raiser for the next phases. If you donate $20 now, we promise to share the music with you once it is produced. A teaser is provided below…

If you would like to help, please transfer a donation to paypal.me/julietlyon or send a check with a note “Juliet Cyclone Idai Project” made out to UCC Cornwall (8 Bolton Hill Rd, Cornwall, CT 06753, USA).

Cyclone Idai

Buzi district, March 21st.

Buzi district, March 21st.

The last update seems a lifetime ago… On March 14th, Cyclone Idai hit the coast destroying 90% of the city of Beira and causing anywhere from 600 to 3000 deaths (the count is still ongoing). Idai wrecked Beira but also caused flooding along a 100 mile stretch of the Buzi river leaving villages underwater and then cut off from basic needs. It has been called the biggest weather related disaster to hit southern Africa. 

One of the first concerns was rescuing people who escaped flooding in trees and on roof tops. We leveraged donations for Aero Clube of Mozambique who sent helicopters to join that effort. We then raised over $5,000 to buy critical supplies for a rescue mission along the Buzi river (Gift of the Givers, African Parks and private boats). It was reported that supplies donated from Vilankulo were the first relief (food, water, clothing, medicine, shelter etc.) to reach many families who had lost the little they had.

PHOTO FROM AFRICAN PARKS: A CUT OFF VILLAGE GATHERS TO MEET THEIR HELICOPTER.

PHOTO FROM AFRICAN PARKS: A CUT OFF VILLAGE GATHERS TO MEET THEIR HELICOPTER.

The last few weeks have been busy. In addition to maintaining ParCo’s regular activities, Juliet has been shopping in bulk (“a thousand of each please”), mobilizing volunteers to help at the (temporarily donated) warehouse space, fundraising with friends and local hotels, networking to get the right people in touch, and helping diverse responders to get the lay of the land on their way north.

We have heard stories from the field such as woman wandering for 10 days in search of health care after injuring herself coming out of the tree where she stayed for 3 days during the peak of flooding. A teacher walking for two days, crossing precarious water ways, to alert a rescue team that his village needed help by air. Local schools and clinics crusted in mud. Sturdy huts far and wide reduced to piles of sticks. Just as occurred during flooding to south in 2000, a woman gave birth in a tree again during this disaster, while also securing her two year old. The needs remain complex and dynamic and there is still room for us to help from 300km south of the Buzi River.

We have raised another $5000 to provide critical supplies to teams on the ground that continue to reach scattered villages with health care and relief. We will provide updates over the coming weeks as we understand and respond to the gaps from those on the ground. From there, we will explore longer term issues such as ensuring supportive care environments for children orphaned in the disaster.

Thank you to all who have donated for your generosity and solidarity.

And please lobby your governments to adopt climate friendly policies.

PHOTOS FROM GRUDJA BELLOW PROVIDED BY SARAH PARKER BIRKETT WHO VOLUNTEERED ON THE GROUND.

Highlights 2018

Before we get too far into the new year… let’s celebrate some wins from 2018…

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Many thanks from the ParCo team.

We appreciate your interest and support as we stimulate change through collaboration.

Partners:

Bahia Mar Club - Friends of Mozambique - Xico Gaivota

Supporting Sponsors:

Casa Cabana Beach - Casa Rex - Dona Soraya Lodge - Ebony Beach - Hooper and Louw Mozambique Horse Safaris - Odyssea Dive - Santorini - UCC Cornwall - Vila do Paraiso Vila de Sonho - Vilamar - Vilanculos Beach Lodge