First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa was last week almost moved to tears when she discovered that one of the victims of Cyclone Idai had been staying in a goat pen after her houses were destroyed.
The First Lady, who visited various areas in Chimanimani and Chipinge for two days, encountered many such sad stories of people whose lives had been completely changed by the events of March 15 when disaster struck.
Mrs Sarah Ngadzione (54), a widow from Ngaone, narrated how her three-roomed house and kitchen hut had been destroyed and she had to sleep in a goat pen for more than a week until she managed to build a makeshift house for herself, her sister and their six children.
“When the rains started on Thursday water started gushing into the house and by morning my three-roomed house was flooded. I heard that my sister’s house had been affected so I went there.
“We tried to help her, but then we realised the wind was getting stronger, so we all went to my house. But when we got there, my house had also started falling. We only managed to retrieve a few items and we slept in the kitchen hut that day. The following morning, my kitchen hut had also crumbled. I was left with nothing. The only structure left standing was the goat pen so we moved the goats outside and cleaned it up and the eight of us slept there,” said Mrs Ngaone who was overcome by emotion as she was speaking.
In Kopa, the First Lady met Mr Heriman Kazembe, a teacher at Ndima High School, who lost his wife and five children and their house. She heard of how local businessman, Mr Peter Mtisi, watched as his wife and other villagers were swept away by the floods.
More than 200 people were swept away when Nyahode River flooded at the confluence with Rusitu River, sweeping away a whole community in Kopa.
The First Lady said she had been touched by the harrowing tales she had heard.
She said the spine-chilling recounts were evidence that the destruction was not only structural, but went deep into the soul of the victims.
“I am deeply moved by the extent of damage that I have witnessed both in Chimanimani and in Chipinge. When I hear that people have had to live with animals, my heart breaks. It is not a good thing that a family can move into a goat pen and stay there. Here in Ngaone, I understand that there were no deaths, but the destruction of homes is as much of a calamity as the death of people. The fact that they lost everything they owned means that they lost their livelihoods, they lost part of their lives,” she said.
The First Lady urged the Ministry of Local Government to speedily build homes for people who had lost everything to ensure that no one continued to live in dehumanising circumstances.