United Methodist Church Continues to Aid Cyclone Idai Survivors in Zimbabwe

Vivian Chigweshe, right, stands in front of her home, which was destroyed by Cyclone Idai in March. She is among the survivors who will have a new house built with support from The United Methodist Church. Standing from left are lay leader Chirobwe Kupeti and the Rev. Jairos Mafondokoto, Masvingo District superintendent. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera, UM News.

United Methodists have rallied to help survivors of Cyclone Idai, continuing to provide aid for Zimbabwe’s affected families in the eastern districts of Manicaland and Masvingo.

The destructive March 15 cyclone affected more than 250,000 people in the Chimanimani, Chipinge, Mutare, Buhera, Bikita, Zaka, Gutu and Chirumanzu districts with an estimated 340 people killed and more than 250 more reported missing, according to ReliefWeb.

Church leaders and survivors said they have been overwhelmed with the kind gesture of support from various partners in their time of need.

A $50,000 grant from the Baltimore-Washington Conference went toward infrastructural development, ensuring the construction of five new homes for families whose houses were destroyed by Cyclone Idai in the Bikita District. The funds were originally earmarked for a pastors’ school program but were redirected to Cyclone Idai aid.

Morgan Jeranyama, a humanitarian relief consultant who was hired by the church in Zimbabwe, said the support was essential.

“I undertook a trip to assess the request and verify the needs of targeted beneficiaries. Of the visited families, after the assessment, it is clear that these are genuine cases of need that deserve assistance,” he said.

Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, Zimbabwe Episcopal Area resident bishop, said he appreciated the gesture by the Baltimore-Washington Conference and Bishop LaTrelle Easterling to reallocate funds to help cyclone victims

“It was a kind gesture that this was approved,” he said.

Charlie Moore, project coordinator for Baltimore-Washington, said the partnership between the two conferences spans 20-plus years.

“One of the key components of this partnership has been sponsoring the pastors’ school that is held every two years at Africa University,” he explained. “In response to the humanitarian crisis that evolved from Cyclone Idai, Bishop Easterling and the Baltimore-Washington Conference leadership team … discussed the possibility of reallocating these budgeted funds … to cyclone relief.”

Moore said he facilitated communication with the Rev. Alan Masimba Gurupira, assistant to the bishop, who kept the conference informed about how the funds were allocated.

“Some of the initial funds were used to purchase three motor bikes for pastors in the affected areas of Ngangu in Chimanimani District,” Moore said.

The bishop also noted a strong partnership between the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area and the Western Pennsylvania Conference. The conference donated $18,000 for medicine that was sent to United Methodist Mutambara Mission Hospital, said Gurupira.

He said the episcopal area also has been in contact with the United Methodist Committee on Relief and has filed the required paperwork for additional assistance. In March, the relief agency allocated three $10,000 grants for immediate, emergency short-term funding to meet basic human needs in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.

The church’s support has been greatly appreciated by survivors of the storm, some of whom shared their stories with UM News.

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Source: United Methodist News