Cyclone survivors anxious about future
Almost two weeks after Cyclone Freddy hit the country with a devastating effect, thousands are still in evacuation camps where they are struggling to come to terms with their suffering. Many of them lost everything and they can’t figure out how they will start all over again
After everything is said and done following the traumatizing Tropical Cyclone Freddy, life must go on.
People in the evacuation camps have to go back home.
But where do they begin to rebuild their lives?
We took this question to people staying in camps in Blantyre, one of the districts worst hit by the cyclone.
Among the people we asked, there was a pervading sense of helplessness as to how they would restart their lives after leaving the camps.
Thirty-nine-year old Enifa Black at Naotcha camp in Chilobwe Township lost her child in the mudslide that swept through her area.
She and her family did not only lose the child. They also lost their house, their home of the past 20 years.
“I heard a crashing noise at around 12 midnight on Tuesday [March 14]. I woke up my husband and the noise became louder.
“We tried to look for the keys so that we leave the house but you know when you are panicking, even usual and simple things get hard we could not locate the keys.
“Next thing, we heard the earth shaking around us and after that I cannot remember what happened. All I remember is finding myself, my husband and children at the hospital, ferried by an ambulance.
“One child was missing and later we were told he was found dead. He was part of the funeral ceremony that was attended by the President last week,” she said.
Black’s husband is a minibus driver by profession.
But he is yet to go back to work because his licence was washed away by the gushing waters.
He is also at the camp, recovering from an injury.
“I was selling tomatoes at the nearby market but now everything I had was washed away. We are glad to be alive but now we have no idea how and where we will begin to rebuild our lives,” Black said.
At Manja camp, Eneya Jailosi who hails from Mulanje District, said he is thinking of relocating back to his home village as his house and business bench were wiped out by the floods.
“I came to Blantyre around 2000. I started out as a garden boy but through those piece works I managed to secure a reasonable life for my family. But now I have lost everything.
“Two of my children are still missing. My wife and I are making peace with the fact that maybe they are dead. At this point I cannot continue staying here in town,” he said.
Micheal Kaiyatsa of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation said such is the state of despair partly because of the country’s failure to plan for disasters.
He faulted government agencies for failing to coordinate well on settlement plans in the country.
“The problem is disasters always hit us hard because there are a lot of things that need to be put in place.
“Now we are presented with a situation where people are destitute in their own country. It is sad that one day someone had a roof on their head and the next day, they have to start their lives all over again,” he said.
Commissioner for the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) Charles Kalemba said the agency provides fragile land maps to all city councils to guide settlements.
The problem, however, is that government has been faced with court injunctions that people obtain to settle in places they are warned against, he said.
“It is not about people not knowing which places they should not settle but rather people have become accustomed to becoming masters of their own fate. They took an injunction and fate struck. But still, the city councils are supposed to do their work.
“While sometimes the city councils tend to do their work the legal entity has not entirely helped in this regard. So what is happening now can be described as a legal way of determining people’s fate,” he said.
President Lazarus Chakwera admitted in the week that it will be difficult for some of the people that have been affected by Tropical Cyclone Freddy to rebuild their lives