Fifteen miles inland, the BBC reporter told me last night, is an inland sea. The ocean no longer stops at the shore in central Mozambique, but has moved miles inland. The river has become a bay, drowning the city. This was a shore where as a high-schooler I explored ship wrecks, played sand volleyball and walked under a rainbow. Now the sea sits, not with coral and tropical fish, but dark, murky and deadly. Snakes swim beside those walking through waist-deep water, as they have been for days. Thousands upon thousands of people.
As with most disasters that happen on foreign or local soil, friends and acquaintances give first hand reliable accounts. Yesterday I received an email. I can’t get it out of my mind because it’s from people I know. Friends of my family are at their home, stranded, feeding and caring for over three hundred people in their front yard. Already they have helped hundreds – hundreds – escape flood waters. They have run out of food. They have seen people die. Relief agencies are aware of their situation, but help has not arrived because the need is so overwhelming. They are making life and death decisions while resources run out and there is no professional medical care. They are it. In the first few days, this is what they experienced:
It is a truly heart rending account: mother in a tree with a baby and not reachable because of raging waters, people gashed from flying roofing sheets, cars overturned and submerged, expectant mothers giving birth in the midst of disaster, people terrified and immobilized by fear, people killed by collapsed walls, snakes swimming by while trying to rescue people causing more chaos, rescue rafts capsizing.”
I don’t want to put words their mouth, but one day they were living their life, going through their routine, and the next they are in the midst of catastrophe. Utter destruction. And they are spent.
A week ago Cyclone Idai came and went, leaving one million individuals with nothing except flood waters that refuse to leave central Mozambique. One million. Imagine one-third of the population of San Diego living on rooftops, exposed, drinking muddy water.
They are asking for help.
When our brothers and sisters in Virginia ask for help for homeless in the community during a hurricane crisis, we help. When sisters and brothers in Nepal ask for help after an earthquake, we help. When brothers and sisters in Germany ask for help feeding and caring for thousands during a humanitarian crisis, we help. When sisters and brothers in Thailand ask for help after a tsunami, we help. When sisters and brothers leave everything behind and flee the wildfires, we clothe, feed and comfort them. When brothers and sisters in the mid-West lose everything to flood waters, we help. We do to others what we would want them to do for us. Because we never know when we will be called from our daily routine, our humdrum lives, to be hands and feet in a catastrophe. It could be you tomorrow, so what can we do to help them today?
This women truly inspired me. She lives in neighboring Zimbabwe, miles from the worst of the disaster. According to the reporter, she gathered personal possessions and walked two hours to stand in a donation line. She could not afford the bus ticket, but decided to walk because “Jesus told her to.” Click on the photo for the full story.