By Rory Murphy
On March 4th 2019, Mozambique’s port city of Beira was 90% destroyed by one of the most devastating natural disasters in living memory. Cyclone Idai affected millions, claimed the homes of many and the lives of more than a thousand. Weeks later, Cyclone Kenneth put an end to the initial relief effort and exacerbated the problems further.
Within the walls of Young Africa Beira, however, the only lingering signs of the cyclones four months on are the water damage to the upper floor of the girls hostel and a fallen fence. As the opening lines of this are written, so too are the concluding lines of the story of Idai and YA Beira.
A new group of students began their journey here last week and another will graduate before I and 12 other SERVE volunteers depart in a week’s time. Almost all of the dozen or so workshops are back to full function. The campus only closed for a matter of days in the wake of the destruction.
So while we departed expecting a wasteland to be our home for the next month, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Young Africa is, in every sense of the word, the very best of Beira. The shortest excursion from the campus reminds you of what this city has experienced this year. Roofs are few and far between. The remnants of shacks and huts lie strewn on the roadside begging the question as to what could have befallen their tenants. The westerly windswept coconut trees provide nature’s reminder of Beira’s hardships.
Back beyond the guarded gate, however, you could quickly forget what exists beyond these four walls. The rapid and effective response to Idai from YA’s partners such as SERVE has, along with the ceaseless resilience of the locals, dragged the campus back to its feet.
So while the recovery of Young Africa is a very pleasant surprise, the takeaway message from our experience thus far is not that we can rest on our laurels happy in the knowledge the damage is repaired. There is so much more to be done. There is always more to be done.