Cyclone Idai one year later: Still not normal

Nearly one year after Cyclone Idai devastated Mozambique and neighbouring countries, Lurde shares her story and the struggles she, her family and community continue to face.

In March 2019, cyclone Idai slammed into Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe with speeds of more than 200 kilometers per hour, causing severe damage. One month after Idai, a second storm hit northern Mozambique while the country was still recovering from cyclone Idai. More than 600 people died and 1,600 were injured during the unprecedented disasters of Cyclones Idai and Kenneth. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, crops have been destroyed and livelihoods lost as a result of these storms.

Lurde is in 7th grade at the Nharuchanga Primary School in Nhamatanda, about two hours away from Beira by car.

In total, about 2,000 students attend her school. CARE started supporting her school in April 2019 by distributing of menstrual kits, hygiene kits and providing hygiene training. CARE is currently also building new latrines and is planning to rebuild classrooms that were destroyed during the cyclone.

Here is Lurde's story in her own words:

Hygiene Promotion at Nharuchonga Primary School in Nhamatanda, Mozambique

I lost three of my brothers during the cyclone last year. It was a Thursday. I was living with them and my oldest brother on the outskirts of Beira, supported me so that I was able to go to school. My teacher that morning said that a big storm was coming but we didn’t believe him at first because we saw no signs. But in the evening I woke up from the noise of the wind. It was so strong, it blew our roof away. I was very scared. A big tree in front of our house fell against our wall and my brothers rushed to the cabinets resting against that wall to take out bags and folders with important certificates and documents. That’s when the whole wall collapsed on them. One of the stones hit my head. I still remember seeing the cracks in the wall moments before my brothers were buried in the rubble. One of my brothers was still breathing and we tried to save him. We called the police and they took him to the hospital. But just minutes later we received a call saying that he didn’t survive. It was so painful to lose them.

Our neighbour helped us find shelter in a school building nearby. We stayed there for one week before helicopters came and took us to the city of Beira. A plastic tent became our new home and we stayed there for a month and a half. I was thinking of my mother and other siblings who lived in our hometown in Nhamatanda, about two hours away from Beira by bus. I was scared that they had died as well. But when my mother found out that I was living in the camp in Beira she came and decided to take me home. She still didn’t have money to support me and my school but I was so happy she came. Her house had also collapsed and she stayed with the neighbours for one week until one of my brothers helped to rebuild a temporary home. It’s just one room and we are eight people who stay there.

Life is still not normal. Our home is too small for us and we struggle with food. But I am able to go to school. 

Lurde Luis

14 years old

Life is still not normal. Our home is too small for us and we struggle with food. But I am able to go to school. My favorite subjects in school are music and biology. And one of my biggest hobbies is drawing. When I grow up, I want to become a biology teacher.

On a normal day, I wake up at 4 AM. I then sweep the floor, clean pots and pans or wash clothes. I then read the bible and go to school around 6:30 AM. At lunch time I go to the market if I have money and buy some groceries. I then go home, help cook and clean and play with my neighbours in the afternoon. Sometimes I go back to the market to buy food for dinner, but only if we have money that day. I then cook, have food and talk to my mother and siblings before bedtime at around 8 PM. We think of my brothers a lot, I miss them. My favorite memory with them was when we used to hike in the mountains close by and played soccer together. They were good to me. I loved them very much. Two of them used to study and one was working day jobs to support us.

When I pray in the mornings, I pray for my family. I pray for us to be protected and always stay together. I don’t want to be separated from my mother and my other siblings anymore. When I lived close to Beira, I only got to see my mom about five times a year. It was not enough.

If I had one wish, it would be to live in a real house again.

I am very happy about the help we received. CARE gave me a new schoolbag and buckets, soap, underwear and other items I use daily. What also helped was to be taught how to wash my hands and practice good hygiene to stay healthy. I didn’t know about that before. But I still need more help. I need school books, pens, a uniform and shoes. We were not able to take anything with us when the floods destroyed our home. We lost everything. But the most painful part was losing my brothers.