There’s no doubt our brothers and sisters in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe need all the solidarity they can receive – material, food and otherwise.
The effects, rather damage, of Cyclone Idai are yet to be quantified. The number of fatalities and those displaced are yet to be fully known.
As of March 29, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) indicated that flooding in Malawi had displaced 87,000 people in camps, with the district of Makhanga, one of the worst affected areas, which remains an island, cut off from all road access. In Mozambique, Cyclone Idai wreaked havoc in the city of Beira, home to some 500,000 people, as well as in the surrounding districts of Manica and Sofala, where it has destroyed the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands more. In Zimbabwe, the impact of the cyclone on the eastern highlands has been massive, with nearly 22,000 people displaced and several bridges and roads washed away. Some communities are accessible only by foot.
The psychological effects, trauma that come with disasters can be lifelong. What Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi require of Zambia and other neighbouring countries is aid in all forms – food, clothes, medicines, human resources for rebuilding and to attend to those in need of medical attention, among others.
Chipata Diocese Bishop George Lungu has directed that there should be a special collection of money in all the parishes in the diocese this coming Sunday that will go to the victims of Cyclone Idai in the three affected countries.
In his communiqué after morning mass at St Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday, Bishop Lungu, who is also president of the Zambia Conference for
Catholic Bishops, said all people of goodwill should render monetary or material support to the families affected by the cyclone.
“In support of victims of Cyclone Idai, Hebrews chapter 13 verse 16 reads, ‘And we should not forget to do good and to share with others
for with such sacrifices God is pleased’. Recently parts of our neighbouring countries of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were hit by a powerful storm called Cyclone Idai. This has caused widespread flooding, destruction of property and loss of lives, to date more than 700
lives have been lost and millions of people have been left homeless while others are still missing. The season of Lent challenges us Christians to share in the sufferings of our neighbours in need. On 20th March this year, the holy father Pope Francis called upon all of us to pray for the victims
but also realising that there is need for material support, I hereby call upon all of you in pastoral and affective solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need to offer financial and material support to the victims. It is for this reason that I ask that next Sunday the 7th April 2019, let there be a collection in all our Catholic churches for this cause.
“Chaona mnzako chapita mawa chili pa iwe(What your friend has faced today is gone; tomorrow it will be you). I have asked the diocesan pastoral coordinator Father Gabriel Mgwazo Nyoni in collaboration with Caritas Chipata to facilitate this process. This collection shall be put together with other collections from other dioceses in the country and handed over to the countries affected by this cyclone. May our brothers and sisters find a little comfort through our humble contributions during this time of their suffering.”
This is the African way. This is the Zambian way. Ubuntu manifested in a time of need, born not out of the possibility of benefitting, but out of the compassion and brotherliness that comes to the fore when we see our neighbour, our brother in need.
At household level, we see this spirit manifest in times of difficulty. When we learn that our neighbour is in mourning, is hosting a funeral, we feel compelled to assist in some way, perhaps by purchasing mealie-meal or other foodstuffs, or helping light the logs that will burn throughout the night. We are moved to visit the house of mourning, even if we are not personal close, out of compassion and out of a sense of duty toward our fellow human being.
Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are Zambia’s neighbours. We share borders with each these countries. Beyond that, our historical ties, individually and corporately, or otherwise, stretch back many decades. Our sense of obligation is therefore stirred to rise up and act in a time like this, being our brother’s keeper.
What these three countries require is a global solidarity of giving not what we have in surplus but sharing even the little we have. This is the essence of humanity. And it will require global solidarity to restore stability in the three afflicted nations because the magnitude of requirements are colossal.
Jose Manuel Barroso said: “There is no stability without solidarity and no solidarity without stability”.
As we seek ways to help Cyclone Idai survivors, governments must take time to reflect seriously on the issue of climate change. The intensity and havoc of Cyclone Idai is a bitter reminder of what humanity is to expect due to climate change. While leaders of most industrialised nations and lead polluters are pulling out of conventions aimed at addressing global warming, the effects of climate change are evident, from rising seas to frequent and violent hurricanes or cyclones all over the world. Elsewhere, nations have had to endure severe heat waves.
Indeed, the relationship between humanity and the environment is a delicate balance. Since the industrial revolution, the world’s population has increased exponentially, and with this growth, the environment has been profoundly affected. Deforestation, pollution and global climate changes are amongst the adverse effects the population and technological expansion has introduced.