A Family Lives in a Tree for Three Days after Cyclone Idai

June 3, 2019

·       Tragically,two children fall to their death while waiting for flood waters to recede.

Joao and his wife awoke in the early morning to the sounds of rushing water. Still in the dark, they grabbed their four children from their beds and ran from their house as it was swallowed by flood waters behind them.

"There was no time to grab anything, we were lucky to get out of our home with our lives," said Joao.

They ran to the tallest tree near their home and climbed above the water level.They clung to the branches for the next three days while the flood waters gushed underneath them.

They had no food. They did not sleep. They endured unrelenting rain and wind.

"We were cold and wet and the rain never stopped day and night," said Joao.

Joao is a subsistence farmer in Mozambique. He grows maize and beans, as do all of his neighbors in his small, remote village. In March 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated large swaths of Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa. Cyclone Idai was the one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to hit the continent of Africa. The storm killed more than 1,000 people and left a serious humanitarian crisis in its wake – hundreds of thousands of people were left without food, water, or shelter.

Joao lost everything. He lost his house. He lost his farm.For three days in the tree he thought about how he would ever be able to provide for his family now that he didn’t have a livelihood.

Then Joao's greatest nightmare came true.

On their third day in the tree, two of Joao's children, his nine-year old son and four-year-old daughter, slipped off their tree branches after succumbing to exhaustion and exposure. They were swept away by the rushing flood waters and were never seen again. 

Joao wipes away tears retelling the story of the most tragic day of his life.He says he must carry on for the sake of his two remaining children. He has replanted maize and beans and is starting to rebuild his home with sticks and mud. He is also helping out in his community. He is helping to distribute the food kits that you donated to his neighbors.

Joao, along with more than 250 other families in his village, lost absolutely everything. The food YOU provided has kept them all alive. 

"I am thankful to be alive and pray that I will make it until the next harvest in a few months," said Joao.

While we cannot fill the hole in Joao's heart from the loss of his children, together, we can provide the basics for his survival. We can give him food, a little hope, so that he will have a future and his two remaining children will survive this tragedy. 

Joao sits next to some of the food supplies you provided him after Cyclone Idai destroyed his farm -the source of food and income to support his family.
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