Through the deafening rain her screams cannot be heard. The nearest house is 100 meters away and completely lost from sight in the downpour. She screams for help again nevertheless; desperate now. Beneath her feet, the roof of the bungalow creaks. From inside, the whimpers of her 4 children, balanced on her husband’s shoulders, spur her to cry out once more.
All around the dark water rises.
Then, through the soaking gloom, a response. The cry of a young man. She yells back, tears of relief breaking through her terrified eyes.
The man’s calls move closer until the form of a dugout canoe emerges nearby. She keeps her composure and instructs her husband to bring the children to the roof. One by one, 3 petrified girls clamber onto the palm thatched roof. Tree tops the only other feature in this murky liquid landscape. Finally, the husband swings himself up to join his family, their 3-year-old daughter, clinging to his back.
Their neighbour’s son shouts over to them from the canoe to pass the girls across. They do, the roof swaying with the waves under the weight and movement of the family. By some miracle they make it into the canoe without overturning it and begin paddling hard for higher ground, but just before it slips from sight, their house crumbles into the flood.
It is 4 days before they can walk back to the wet palm fronds and beams that were their home. In that time, the challenge of what lies ahead crystallises in the parent’s minds. Not only is the house destroyed but also their entire crop – their maize, just days away from harvest, stands rotting while the rice has suffocated under the water. They must rebuild and replant but with only the clothes on their backs, the economics are harsh.
HoverAid has been working with the communities of Mangabe, assessing the needs and responding accordingly. We have delivered emergency food; essentials like soap, matches and candles; and seed to replant lost crops.
In front of the skeleton of a new house Mahashinda takes a break from carpentry to sit with his family in the shade. The ground is now dry and the sun blazes overhead. Jeanine tells us that the food has bought them 1 week in which they can focus all their energies towards replanting and rebuilding. She explains that the next months will be tough but with shelter overhead and a harvest on the horizon, they will manage thanks to HoverAid.