Friday, October 20, 2017

A Flood of Refugees

By Ben Liddy, a member of the disaster relief team responding to flooding in Mozambique

In many ways, this stretch of the road to Chokwe is just like any other. But unlike any other part of the scenic drive up into the Gaza Province of Mozambique, this small stretch has become a temporary home for thousands of people.

Seeing thousands of people living on the side of the road can be intimidating. The sheer volume of refugees becomes more and more apparent as you keep driving and continue to see more and more people.

You haven’t even reached the flooded areas yet. You haven’t seen the thousands of acres that are completely inundated with water. The thousands of homes and crops that are now completely devastated and unusable.

Thousands of family plots, huts or houses, every possession they’ve ever owned—it’s all under water, or just flat out gone. Washed away by the mighty Limpopo River that exceeded its banks tenfold and literally stripped the thick pavement right off the road.

It wasn’t done with just the road. Entire houses, tractors, vehicles, and power transmission lines were washed away. All that’s left is the horrible stench of sewage and death, and the generous gift of mud deposited as thick as a telephone pole in most locations.

Those who remain are faced with not only the problem of how to survive, but with cleaning what’s left. As I passed one home I asked myself, “How do you clean a mattress that has been covered in water and mud for day or weeks?”

The obvious answer is to replace it. But with what? Your home is gone. There’s no farm, no money, no fresh water to clean with.

This is how it feels in Gaza. Today I reminded how hopelessness can grip someone.

Thankfully there is help. Samaritan’s Purse is working diligently to provide displaced families with something. Water, shelter, hygiene supplies. They won’t have their homes back, but they will have something.

This brings me hope. I’m sure it brings the people affected in the area hope as well.