""In all my life, I had never seen anything like it.""
On Friday, March 15th while St. Patrick’s Day festivities began in Ireland, the people of Zimbabwe braced themselves for what would be the worst natural disaster to hit to Southern Hemisphere. Torrential rains and gale force winds battered Malawi before the cyclone made contact with land in regions of Zimbabwe. Since then, the GOAL Zimbabwe team has reached almost 200,000 people with support from OFDA, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP.
Through these partnerships in Zimbabwe, GOAL has provided:
• Over 40,000 individuals have received hygiene kits to ensure they adopt the recommended hygiene practises (with support from OFDA)
• An additional 16,000 children have benefitted from WASH non-food item (NFI) kits through (supported by UNICEF)
• Over 14,000 individuals who lost shelter or property due to the cyclone have availed of shelter kits and NFI items (supported by UNHCR)
• Over 82,000 individuals, including children and lactating women, were provided with 6kg of food items including super cereals, maize, pulses and vegetable oils through the World Food Programme
Four months on from the catastrophic weather disaster, the GOAL Zimbabwe team visit a mother of six who lost everything during the Cyclone.
This is Embedzai Ngaite’s story.
Every mother woman has the hunger and thirst to prioritise her children’s survival, regardless of where she is from or what she has to go through. Embedzai Ngaite (43) is one such woman. A single mother of five, she lost her home, property and poultry to floods when Cyclone Idai hit four months ago. However, she is defying the odds and seeking to rebuild her life.
Embedzai greets GOAL staff with a warm smile as we visit her household in Chipinge district in Zimbabwe. She is alone at home and waiting for her young children to come back from school. As she narrates her story, memories of Cyclone Idai overcome her and she becomes emotional:
“I was very down when the cyclone destroyed my property. In all my life, I had never seen anything like it. Floods have come to Zimbabwe before but l did not think it would affect my family like this,” she said. Embedzai’s eldest is 24 and youngest is six. Her husband left the family in 2008 to seek employment in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, and never returned home. As a mother, she has to keep the household intact, pay school fees for her children, and ensure that their physical and emotional needs are catered for. Cyclone IDAI left Embedzai helpless, with little hope of surviving. After losing her house, property and 50 chickens, the family sought refuge at a neighbour’s house. With support from the Department of Social Welfare and Child Care, GOAL Zimbabwe provided the family of seven with a tent, a kitchen set and food items to help them reestablish their life. This support enabled Embedzai to move out of her neighbours’ house with her children giving her back her independence.
Together with four of her friends, Embedzai started molding bricks to speed up the construction of a new house. To date she has 12,000 bricks that she hopes to use to rebuild a four roomed house including a kitchen. Motivated by the need to build a house that is stronger than her last home, she is saving money to purchase cement. The only problem is the volatile economic environment which is pushing prices of building material up every day. “I have bought 25 chicks to start my new poultry project. It is my hope that I will be able to make savings to buy cement and pit sand to build my new house.”
“I feel the need to provide the best home for my children and l will try to use the skills I have as much as l can. I cannot depend on donors for everything, l also need to do something,” she adds with fierce determination.
FACT Zimbabwe, a local non-governmental organization based in Chipinge is also assisting Embedzai by paying school fees for two of her children, a system that has eased that burden on her.
“I call upon civic society organizations to assist in building our skills so that we are able to run long term projects ourselves. They could also facilitate access to loans that we will repay after a certain period. This will help us to fend for ourselves even when the NGOs leave the community” she said.
Report from Chipinge District, Zimbabwe by Thandolwenkosi Sibindi | Gender Advisor, GOAL Zimbabwe