PSYCHO-SOCIAL INTERVENTIONS FOR THE CYCLONE IDAI VICTIMS PROSPOSED BY THE JESUITS

The Southern African Jesuits are working to rebuild and restore their region after Cyclones .  The Jesuits on the ground conducted a rapid assessment test and realized that among the three countries, Beira’s city damaged was widespread and Jesuits alone could not provide solutions.  This is why  they called upon everyone, including  the governments of   Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, UN agencies,  well-wishers, their Jesuits counterparts in the whole world,NGOs and faith-based organizations to join them in providing basic needs such as water, sanitation facilities, food supplies, clothing, rebuild houses and funds to the victims of Cyclone Idai.  Besides that, there was also urgent need to restore the damaged infrastructures such as electricity and roads as most workers depend on the two.

In Zimbabwe, the Jesuits are present in the diocese through Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) have a project in Tongogara Refugee Camp. The JRS team needs assistance for the reconstruction of refugee houses, and the rehabilitation of facilities that were destroyed by the Cyclone. Cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani and Chipinge and an estimated number of 297 people died and 155 people missing. Some 600 households were affected, and one school run by the Diocese of Mutare, St Charles Lwanga Secondary School, was completely destroyed, 3 people succumbed to death due to the Cyclones; sliding mud and rocks rolled down the school dining hall, that ended up destroying dormitory where 48 form one pupils used to sleep.  The Jesuits so far are appealing to well-wishers to donate funds that can help rebuild the above mentioned school and refugees houses in Zimbabwe.

For Malawi, Jesuits are present in Lilongwe, and run their agricultural activities through Jesuit Centre for Ecology and Development (JCED) Dzaleka refugee camp. The Jesuits in Malawi are proposing provide food, water and sanitation facilities to victims of Cyclones.

Restoration with Dignity

The Jesuits are proposing holistic approach to help the victims of cyclones, that is, spiritual, emotional and psychological support to the families that lost theirs members in the tragic circumstance.   Of great concern, to the Jesuits, are the reported cases of 1.7 million children that were orphaned or separated from their parents during the Cyclone devastation . For these children, the road to recovery is long; they will need to heal from the deep trauma. The Jesuit Aqua Healing situated at the white Father’s centres offers psychological counselling and they intend to walk with affected children for the purpose of healing their emotions. The Jesuits wish to provide psychosocial support to adults too whose properties were destroyed. This is to help them heal the negative memories and start all over again.

Considering that the some of the affected children are orphaned,living in the camps with adults, the Jesuits see the need to protect the children from any form of sexual or physical abuse and are seeing the need to offer child protection trainings in the camps as preventive measures.  Therefore, there is a plan underway to hold workshops and trainings on child protection in parishes, schools and camps in both Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Dealing with effects of climate change

For the Province of Zimbabwe effects of poor rainfall, flooding in eastern part of the country already caused food insecurity. It would to see that the food basket in this region gets filled up. For Malawi, extremely heavy rainfalls were reported in lower Shire River districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje in the far south of Malawi have been compounded by further rains and flooding from Cyclone Idai. This double disaster caused severe flooding in 14 of Nsanje’s 28 districts. Many deaths were reported, and according to IOM Malawi over 81,000 families were displaced seeking shelter in schools, churches and informal displacement centres. It is proposed that food assistance will be provided, as in the case of Zimbabwe and Mozambique

Re-energise education sector

The Jesuits in the southern region initiated a programme with Fe y Alegria in Beira in the past, and this programme is even more important after Idai destruction. Mozambique is known as a country that its education system is poor in comparison with other countries in the southern region.  The Jesuits will put more efforts in providing education needs to the children of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe by building schools and ensure pupils have access to formal education, school texts books and  other learning materials for successful educational outcome in that country. Hungry children have difficulty in learning. Hence, having regular feeding programme in Jesuits Schools would boost their learning.

In conclusion, Jesuits are appealing to everyone to donate for a long-term solution in the three countries. Your donation will assist the Jesuits to help the victims by building schools, health centres, provide medicines, food stuffs, water, and psycho-social aid and invest in cross-country programmes that will give these three countries a pool of competent people who can respond with long-term strategies to improve livelihood opportunities in agricultural, livestock and husbandry proposals. It is estimated that interventions in all these areas will require some USD $3 million in funds to realize their dreams of restoring to normalcy. Now you know why you should give a helping hand, heart and mind to the Jesuits.

Article JENA Communications

Elizabeth Auma