The Pastor Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International responds to the call to aid thousands of victims displaced by one of the worst storms to hit the African continent in decades.
Cyclone Idai ravaged the southern African countries of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in the middle of the night on March 15 leaving extensive destruction in its wake. The nations, which are among some of the poorest in the world, continue to grapple with the catastrophic effects of the storm that is believed to have killed more than 750 people and displaced more than 100,000 people. The region is currently facing a developing humanitarian crisis that is only expected to get worse as the devastating flood waters recede.
Hope Relief Mission to Zimbabwe
The Pastor Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International (COFI), a global non-governmental organization that works to help individuals and establish strong communities around the world, quickly responded to the needs of survivors through the organization of a relief mission. The foundation sponsored a volunteer Hope Relief Mission to deliver aid and supplies to victims of Cyclone Idai. The foundation, founded and led by the magnanimous Christ Embassy Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, is dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable and impoverished people through campaigns designed to build strong communities, provide access to high-quality education and health care and to share the inspiring Word of God.
COFI sponsors aid organizations whose work aligns with its mission of extending the love and compassion of God to those in need, such as the Volunteer Medical Corps, an organization that provides medical aid to survivors of natural disasters, refugees and displaced persons, the InnerCity Mission, an organization working to end child poverty, and the Bible for All Mission, a faith-based organization that shares the Word of God to those in desolate circumstances.
The Hope Relief Missionsponsored by COFI delivered relief supplies, clean water and hygiene kits, transported medical teams and provided Bibles with uplifting messages of hope and resilience to the survivors of areas hardest hit by Cyclone Idai. The aid convoy administered assistance to the cities from Mutare to Chimanimani in Zimbabwe. Prior to departing, Pastor Chris’s Christ Embassy Belvedere held a Faith in Action Crusade in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, where over 10,000 people gathered to witness the power of God through healing miracles and pray for the salvation of their souls.
Cyclone Idai: Devastation and Disease
Coastal areas of Mozambique have experienced catastrophic flooding. The extent of the humanitarian crisis only grows as the floodwaters begin to recede. The UN reports that in Mozambique, the country hardest hit, 446 have died (a number that is likely to rise in the coming weeks) and 110,000 people are living in temporary shelters.
The storm has caused major power outages and damage to infrastructure. Washed out roads have left entire cities cut off from supplies and medical services. In Zimbabwe, there are reports that 121,000 people in the Chimanimani district are in need of urgent food aid. Organizations including the Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International have funded aid missions to the Chimanimani, delivering truckloads of food to help those that have survived but continue to face unimaginable hardship.
While the storm was destructive, the flooding it caused brings about additional concerns for the region. Flooding contaminates drinking water, contributes to poor sanitation and leads to the spread of disease. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has reported cases of cholera and a rise in malaria infections in the devastated Mozambique port city of Beira.
Cholera is a deadly disease that is spread through drinking water and food contaminated by feces, leading to fast-spreading outbreaks. The Ministry of Health in Mozambique, the Red Cross and the World Health Organization have recently conducted emergency vaccination campaigns to combat deadly Cholera outbreaks in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, reaching hundreds of thousands of people across the devastated region.
Aiding the Victims of Cyclone Idai
The deadly cyclone has also destroyed food supplies leaving many starving and malnourished, scavenging to find adequate food for themselves and their families. Fields of corn, rice and wheat were decimated by the storm, destroying the primary source of food for most of the population, half of which lives below the poverty line. Temporary camps have been set up across the region to shelter those whose homes were destroyed by the cyclone.
The World Bank estimates that Cyclone Idai cost Mozambique $773 million in direct economic losses, while a coordinated appeal by the United Nations has only managed to secure $282 million in funds raised. Additional aid and funding will be needed to help the region recover and adequately address the needs of the people affected by the storm.
According to Titus Queiroz dos Santos, Mozambique Red Cross Director of Programmes the aid work, “has been effective, and we are now starting to see the initial green shoots of recovery in central Mozambique. The survivors of this disaster are still suffering, but many are already determined to go home and rebuild their lives and livelihoods.”
Aid organization, like the Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International, are determined to be there to support survivors of the storm at every step of the journey. The organization is devoted to providing physical and psychological support to the children and families whose lives have been irreversibly changed by the storm.
One of the survivors of the disaster in Zimbabwe shared his appreciation for the work of the Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International saying, “Since the disaster, there hasn’t been any organization that has gathered so many people and with so much relief that every person got something. Before the Hope Relief Mission, only those who had ties with those in government were the ones getting the aid, ONLY the Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International had managed to make sure that even the less privileged and much less deserving people, were finally recognized and reached in this distribution.”
Amid the destruction, the Pastor Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International aims to help the victims of Cyclone Idai find hope. The volunteers traveling to Zimbabwe provide assistance and offer their condolences to the survivors who have been left with nothing but devastation. The goal of the Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International is to help these victims find a path forward through the merciful power of God.