When calamity strikes, life comes to a standstill. The rebuilding process is very painful, and this further negatively affects the survivors of an already very traumatic event. Cyclone Freddy left Southern Malawi with devastating impacts, with more than 600 deaths, an additional 500+ still missing, more than 659,000 people displaced and many homes, livelihoods and critical infrastructure destroyed. Many survivors develop suicidal thoughts as they feel their lives are over, unable to comprehend the losses they are experiencing. The recurring thoughts of the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy have left many women, children and even men with untreated trauma.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and funded by United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) have restored hope to some of the 659,000+ Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by the Tropical Cyclone, by distributing shelter materials and Non-Food Items (NFIs).
Rose Mashoni, aged 39, smiles today, even though she still feels the pain caused by the losses she suffered due to the cyclone. “We lost our house, our farm, and our livestock on the fateful day. The only thing I managed to get were clothes that I wore on the day. The next morning, I tried to visit where my house was, and it pained me seeing where my house was built covered in water. The rains and the floods that came with the cyclone flooded our lake and this affected us greatly.” Mashoni narrates.
Mashoni, like many IDPs affected by the cyclone, fears water. She struggled to sleep at night because she could not stop thinking about the damage from Cyclone Freddy. However, with the materials she received from IOM through Habitat for Humanity, Mashoni has been able to construct a temporary housing unit. She received a shelter and NFI kit comprising of tarpaulins, rope, blankets, mats and unconditional cash amounting to forty thousand Malawi Kwacha (MWK 40,000) to support her and her family.
Additionally, IOM, other UN partners and government counterparts are referring identified patients to responsible agencies to get professional mental health support.
Mashoni is awaiting the support of the government, to fast-track the identification of land for relocation and hopes to move to the highlands - away from the lake and future risks of floods. She hopes that her family will get support to construct a more resilient and better-equipped house, to withstand strong weather events. Mashoni hopes to restart her business and best support her family.
IOM is currently in the process of coordinating with government authorities at different levels as well as other cluster partners to find durable and safe solutions to end temporary displacement. A pilot plan for Chiradzulu on relocation for 535 people to a safe site was already developed.