On April 29th, Cyclone Kenneth touched down just six weeks after Cyclone Idai. Cyclone Idai displaced thousands and claimed the lives of almost 500 people in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Tropical Cyclone Kenneth has caused death and destruction in the Comoro Islands, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Tanzania. An estimated 38 people on Africa’s southeastern coast have died due to Cyclone Kenneth.
The United Church of Christ in Mozambique (UCCM), a Global Ministries partner, has shared that the situation in the northern part of the country is getting dire where more than 20,000 families are homeless as a result of Cyclone Kenneth washing away their homes in mudslides.
Reverend Lucas Amosse, president of the UCCM, wrote, “Cyclone Kenneth destroyed everything that was left after Cyclone Idai. We do not know how we shall survive. Only God knows. We ask your prayers for the many broken hearts. There are people who do not know where to go or how to start rebuilding their lives. We are in a real crisis.”
Update: June 2019
The United Church of Christ in Mozambique (UCCM) has been providing food items and clothes for families displaced by the cyclones. In coordination with the government providing food for families affected by the cyclones through local centers, the UCCM has been able to distribute meals to those who have not been receiving meals from the government or other relief organizations.
In addition to providing food for displaced families, the UCCM has begun reconstruction on the school, church, offices, community areas being used for their relief programs , a nursery, and several homes owned by the church in Beira on their main campus. The UCCM will continue to reconstruct and rebuild churches and homes damaged by the cyclones throughout the country. Additionally, they are making plans to include disaster response and emergency preparedness topics in the next trainings of pastors and church leadership. Below are photos from the UCCM’s food distribution and the reconstruction projects they have started.
Update: October 2019
Almost six months following the first cyclone to strike Mozambique this year, the United Church of Christ Mozambique continues to provide relief and accompaniment for families affected by the disaster. Immediately following the cyclones, the UCCM offered an initial response of offering temporary shelter, food, hygiene kits, and water.
Today, the UCCM is focused on rebuilding and repairing destroyed buildings, and offering pastoral care for those affected by the cyclone. Current priorities include the rebuilding homes for pastors, repairing the roofs in chapels, offering financial support for widows, and counseling children displaced by the cyclone.
In August, Marco Cable, the Executive for the Global Ministries Africa Office made a pastoral visit to Beira to witness the devastation caused by the two cyclones, see how the church has already provided for communities impacted, and to pray and be present with the church. The church executive and he visited a number of communities in Mozambique. Returning from this travel, Marco shared a reflection about one experience that stood out:
We arrived to a village just outside of Beira City in the late morning to be met by members of the congregations joyfully singing and showering the president of the church and me with rose pedals. They stood in rows to receive us as it is the their custom. I was introduced as the visitor from the United States from Global Ministries. Then the delegation I traveled with received greetings from the local church pastor, the chairperson of the congregation board, and the community elders. As we were concluding our visit, a very elderly lady who was slightly slunched over approached me with excitement in her eyes. With the assistance of a translator she asked: You are from the United States? My son, are you really from the United States? I replied, "yes, Mama, I am from the United States!" She continued with her questions: "So you rode the big plane in the sky and cross the massive ocean just to see me? You came just to see me and all my children behind me?" Again, I replied, "Yes, Mama I came to see you and all of your children." To which she concluded, "My. My. My. My son from the United States has come so very far just to see me and it makes my heart so very happy."
That is the work of the church through Global Ministries. To be present with our sisters and brothers through life’s joys and concerns and to mutually accompany one another which leads to joy, unspeakable joy and the opportunity to be Christ’s presence even if it means traveling on a big plane in the sky and crossing an ocean.