Prior to recent historic floods in Mozambique, Amelia Manuel lived in a farming community near the Zambezi River where she supported her family of three by harvesting cassava, potatoes, bananas, rice and corn. She lived on a fertile piece of land in a comfortable, typical house made of wood and mud, the typical building materials of her region.
But when heavy rains fell in mid-February, widespread flooding forced Amelia, her young family and her neighbors to flee more than four miles away to find shelter from the encroaching river.
Amelia Manuel and her daughter, Antonia, at their temporary new home, an accommodation center in Nzanza, Mozambique.
(Photo Credit: Gina Guinta/American Red Cross)
When Amelia Manuel’s family needed help, the American Red Cross was there to support the work of the Mozambique Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (International Federation). Together, they helped families like Amelia’s begin to rebuild their lives.
“I lost blankets, buckets, everything in the floods,” said Manuel. “The Red Cross has helped us by replacing these items.”
Partners Around the World
On May 8, the American Red Cross will reflect on its efforts in Mozambique and several other countries by joining with its partners around the world in celebrating World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. This day commemorates the birthday of Red Cross founder, Henry Dunant, and the work of Red Cross volunteers around the world who help the most vulnerable-like Amelia Manuel and her family-during times of disaster.
As part of the International Movement of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the American Red Cross not only helps people in the United States but also provides assistance to the most vulnerable around the world during times of disaster. In Mozambique, the American Red Cross has provided aid to more than 300,000 affected people by deploying two international disaster response delegates and sending cash, blankets, tarpaulins and sleeping mats.
“The blankets and sleeping mats are the most important items because at night it gets cold," Amelia said. "The blankets keep us warm and the sleeping mats make it more comfortable to sleep.”
A helicopter distributes supplies from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to the accomodation center in Nzanza.
(Photo Credit: Gina Guinta/Ameican Red Cross)
The American Red Cross delegates worked with the International Federation to set up accommodation centers throughout the region for families like Amelia’s with nowhere to go. Local roads which deteriorated following the floods and subsequent cyclones have since improved, allowing Red Cross delegates to reach remote areas with the food and water families need to meet their nutritional requirements.
“When I first arrived, shelter and food were my main needs,” recalled Amelia. “My temporary home in Nzanza is much smaller but thanks to the Red Cross volunteers, I now have access to first aid materials and assistance.”
Poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions are being lessened with the help of the Red Cross. Improved sanitation and water facilities and health practices are being used in an effort to prevent cholera, dengue, dysentery and malaria outbreaks in the area.
Starting a New Life
Amelia Manuel has decided not to return home after she leaves the accommodation center because of the increase in flooding over the past few years. Instead, she will join members of the community as they move to a resettlement center to build new homes and return to farming.
“Because of the items I received; I can start a good and new life,” she said.
Stories like Amelia’s are the reason we celebrate World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. Although the festivities may last just one day, families like Amelia’s will be grateful for the assistance they received from the Red Cross for the rest of their lives.
You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation.