After the physical devastation of Cyclone IDAI which ravaged Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, little did I know that I would embark on this journey as a team leader of my organization’s emergency response. The journey to the Zimbabwe Eastern Highlands started for me the night of the 17th March, exactly 6days after the cyclone had caused floods and deadly landslides particularly in Chimanimani district.
As I watched the news on all the channels my heart went out to the affected, the victims of the devastation, the injured, and the missing. Not to mention the the families who had no idea where their loved ones were. I made a decision that night first to participate in the disaster recovery both as a professional and an individual. I woke up and started gathering clothes that I had not worn in the last month and packed my bags. To me it was my only way of saying thank you to my creator and appreciating all the blessings I have, a roof over my head, children, a job, and most importantly life.
The pictures I saw on social media pushed me to clean my wardrobe, and that moment I realized how blessed I was and am in all aspects of life. When my boss called for a meeting the next day I had already made up my mind. I had to go. I was prepared to use all my personal resources from monetary, physical, emotional, spiritual to reach out to the affected and needing those the most.
As I drove together with the emergency rescue team from my organization Premier Services Medical Investment and EMRAS and little did I know what awaited me. The situation was extremely bad on the ground than what was being said or reported. I came face to face with the reality of the devastation, the injured, the separated families including children. They woke up having lost everything, they were desperate, shaken, homeless, destitute, fatherless, motherless, and hopeless.
As rescue teams we suddenly realized the magnitude of what we had volunteered for. It was very traumatic. Leaving us helpless and emotionally out of control but nonetheless realizing the work needed to be done. The trauma left us struggling with upset emotions, memories and anxiety that would not go away. Leaving some of us feeling numb, disconnected and unable to fully comprehend what really happened.
After the first two days of hard work, emotional encounters with victims, I realized how heartbroken I was becoming, the scenes I had encountered were tearing me apart. I wanted to quit. I did not have any willpower left. I was failing to sleep nor eat. I was devastated. Joined by our rescue teams including the military gave me renewed energy, I asked for strength from the almighty and stopped asking questions
They came from all over the width and breath of the country, all for the same cause to lend a hand. To share their resources materially, physically and emotionally voluntarily. If only the efforts could reverse what had happened.
We shared traumatic events, encounters, the impact of the cyclone and how it had an effect on our personal lives going forward. How if ever called for the type of call of duty we would not hesitate to take our bags and go to do what we had learnt in the five days of emergency medical rescue effort. What however was apparent was the impact it had on our lives, my life and how differently we would need to deal with the trauma of the devastating Cyclone IDAI.
The unsung heroes and many more who contributed to the rescue and continue to do so to date, and having to deal with the traumatic experience and effects of the cyclone both as victims and rescuers.