By Owen Dhliwayo
On the weekend of 15 – 17 March 2019, both Chimanimani and Chipinge districts suffered multiple destruction from Cyclone Idai whose survivors are now in desperate need of shelter, water, food, medication and blankets. There were numerous deaths and destruction of property and infrastructure in the two districts. On 20 April 2019, Platform for Youth Development (PYD), a Chipinge based Civic organization held a community prayer meeting and clean-up campaign at Checheche growth point in remembrance of Cyclone Idai victims. The prayer meeting and the cleanup campaign were focused on restoring and maintaining hope in the affected communities. It was also aimed at relieving survivors from post-traumatic disorder (TSD) effects.
“We carry strong sentiments and beliefs about our relatives and friends who fell victims to Cyclone Idai. As the Ndau people we were raised to love, serve, and honour our fellow people no matter what the situation. Cyclone Idai destroyed families, individual lives as well as our community fabric,” Claris Madhuku told the gathering.
“The clean-up campaign and the prayer meeting is a symbol of hope as we recover from the Cyclone Idai disaster. As the clergy, we are to play an important role in identifying individuals facing Cyclone Idai induced challenges. We stand to offer support to the victims,” said Reverend Joseph Mugidheya of the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ).
The prayer meeting and the clean-up campaign were also held as part of collective efforts to provide material, emotional and spiritual support to Cyclone Idai victims. As stated by the PYD, the prayer meeting and the clean-up campaign is part of the strategy to reduce trauma being suffered by survivors of Cyclone Idai. “At a time when they are still grieving, the prayer meeting helps the victims in building hope and going on with life,” said PYD in a statement.
“For those of us who were left suffering after the disaster, the prayer meeting is the first step in giving us the strength and hope to carry on with life,” said Irene Kaitu, a Cyclone Idai survivor.
Cynthia Gwenzi, PYD Gender and Advocacy Officer said that the Cyclone Idai had a gender perspective in its trail of disaster. “Women feel powerless in the decision-making process. Powerlessness in decision – making increases women’s social and psychological vulnerabilities, putting them at risk of falling into deeper poverty in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai,” she said.
Participants in the prayer meeting and cleanup campaign, who also included Chipinge based civic leaders applauded PYD for invoking a collective effort in offering spiritual and moral support to survivors.