What’s even better than a roof? | Humanitarian Coalition

Photo: Save the Children

What’s even better than a roof?
December 9, 2019
The sky went absolutely mad, and the wind was loud and violent. Men were outside trying to tie the roof which was flapping like a frightened bird, but the wind was way stronger than the men. The roof flew off and almost killed some of the men when it was torn in pieces! Children were crying, everyone was so frightened.

We probably don’t give much thought to our roof, even though it shelters us from the rain and snow, and provides comfort and security to the family inside.

Rahima, a 72-year-old widow who lives on an island off the coast of northern Mozambique, has thought about her roof a lot lately.

She and her husband built their house, and it was strong. “I helped him make the roof and prepare the mud for the walls. It survived many storms and strong winds and always protected us from the elements.”

Until April 2019.

That’s when Rahima and her neighbours were told a storm was coming and they should move to the safest buildings possible. So Rahima and her daughters and their families moved to a friend’s place to watch the storm pass, like other storms before.

But this time was different.

“The cyclone was like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” says Rahima. “The sky went absolutely mad, and the wind was loud and violent. Men were outside trying to tie the roof which was flapping like a frightened bird, but the wind was way stronger than the men. The roof flew off and almost killed some of the men when it was torn in pieces! Children were crying, everyone was so frightened.”

Rahima lost many things in that storm. She lost her income because her coconut trees were stripped of fruit and her chickens disappeared. All her possessions were damaged. Even worse, she says, “My roof was completely torn off.”

When Cyclone Kenneth destroyed the homes and livelihoods of thousands of people like Rahima, it also contaminated drinking water and cut off communications.  The Humanitarian Coalition and our member agencies had to act fast.

Through our teams on the ground, we delivered emergency supplies of food, water and hygiene kits to families in need; we set up a cholera vaccination and treatment centre; and we offered protection and education to children who were traumatized and vulnerable.

We also provided building materials to vulnerable people like a 72-year old grandmother with no money and a missing roof.

She was happy, of course, but not for the reason you would expect.

Rahima says that the best part about receiving shelter materials is not even the new roof over her head. She said, “Even more importantly, I am seeing you – strangers from distant countries – helping us!”

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