Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Long Road Ahead

By Alyssa Burt, a member of the Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief team responding to catastrophic flooding in Mozambique

I was able to visit the Chokwe and Chiquelane camps where there are thousands of displaced people. It was heartbreaking in so many ways. Two weeks ago, waters began to rise quickly in the surrounding area and many families were forced into camps and lost everything. Many of these people’s homes were completely destroyed in the flood, with everything inside ruined.

When we entered Chokwe, we came across a family that was sitting outside their home surrounded by their few remaining possessions. A woman named Danita was sitting on a dirty bucket in the middle of an enormous pile of ruins that was once her home. Her life had been completely turned upside down.

I tried to imagine myself in that situation, and felt completely overwhelmed. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Danita had pots of clean water and was scrubbing the filth off everything that was still in one piece. I guess you just start somewhere, whether it’s big or small. She and her husband, Manafi, have two kids and own a small shop down the street from their house. I imagine the shop was destroyed as well.

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Manafi’s father, who passed away a couple of years ago, was able to provide things for his family. But now with the floods, everything his dad worked for wasgone. They have to completely clean out their house and start new. They were sleeping on the ground in the presence of mosquitoes, just to wake up to another day of cleaning and mourning.

sptoday_2-13-13_3As I watched Danita clean her drinking glasses and lay them on a cloth completely surrounded by all of her muddy and rotting possessions, I saw a glimpse of God. There was cleanliness in the midst of a chaotic, disgusting mess. This entire flood situation is a mess. So many people are suffering, but little by little I am seeing glimpses of hope.

God is at the center of all things. It may not look that way as a whole, but if you step further in and talk to people about what kind of help they are receiving, or play with kids that have incredibly contagious laughs, you see God’s hands at work. You can see joy in suffering. Just as Danita’s clean china cups are revealing their beauty, God is showing himself in the people affected, in the thousands of shelters distributed, in the water and hygiene programs put into effect, and in the progress that comes day after day.

Danita and Manafi’s family have a long road ahead of them. They have been through a whirlwind of emotions and desperation. But God’s hands are mighty. He makes all things new and loves His people.