The Stones You See
Updated: Oct 23, 2019
Report on Zimbabwe's Cyclone
Meeting with the survivors and examining the rubble covering the residential places where homes were destroyed and lives were lost was heartbreaking. Most of the survivors are failing to cope with the trauma. Whilst several humanitarian organizations are distributing aid and offering counseling services, the interventions lack proper coordination.
There are so many people needing help who are left neglected. Some are drowning their pain and sorrows in abusing drugs and alcohol. At one of the shelters we visited, most of the young men and women including some elderly folk were heavily drunk. Women and children comprise approximately 80% of the people who died or are still missing. They were either swept off by the floods or covered in mudslides that were subsequently covered by huge stones which emerged from the ground as top soil layers had been swept off by the unusually heavy rains.
Most painful is that the two places extensively impacted were settlements erroneously set up by the city council in places well known to be waterways. These places had been designated as unfit for human settlement during the colonial era, However, after Zimbabwe attained independence in 1980, the local city council authorities disregarded these regulations and proceeded to permit residential building there. All the houses along the two waterways were wiped out and most of the residents were either swept off into the ocean or severely injured. A few survivors remained with absolutely nothing--food, shelter, clothing all gone. All that remains are the huge stones covering the place they used to call home.
Sophie Chirongoma, July 2019