WHEATON, Ill., March 2, 2000 - With
at least 35 of its staff still missing and its offices and program records
under water, World Relief faces a challenge in Mozambique unlike any other
disaster it's ever faced.
World Relief continues search-and-rescue operations in flooded southern Mozambique, where thousands remain trapped in trees and on roof tops without food or clean water. One of the many people World Relief's Dr. Pieter Ernst rescued was a seven-year-old-boy he found sitting on the highest point of his almost completely submerged hut. The boy was holding his two-week-old sister as his legs dangled in the water. He told Ernst that his mother had drowned inside.
As World Relief's President, Clive Calver, worked with several South African pastors to rescue people this week, he noted, "the snakes are also looking for dry ground and ending up in the trees with the people."
National Public Radio's Kenneth Walker joined Calver and Ernst during yesterday's rescue operation. The account, which aired on "All Things Considered," can be heard at www.npr.org/news/world.
"The end will be worse than the beginning," predicts Galen Carey, World Relief's Mozambique Director, referring to additional flood water on its way and expected epidemics of cholera and malaria.
World Relief was the largest international aid agency working in southern Gaza Province, site of the worst flooding. Its community development programs were helping more than 45,000 families with health education and loans to start small businesses so families can provide for their own needs. "Homes, businesses, schools, churches, hospitals - they're all under water now," says Calver.
"While at the moment we're focused on the short-term crises of rescue and cholera, the real problems are the medium and long-range ones," Calver explains. "The medium-term crisis is that the harvest is gone. The long-term is that all the family businesses and homes are destroyed."
In the midst of the chaos, World Relief staff, who have lost their own homes, continue working with neighboring churches to rescue those stranded and help with emergency health needs in the camps for displaced people. Once flood waters recede, World Relief will distribute seeds and tools for replanting crops and resupply markets with food. "The Mozambicans work hard; they just need the tools to rebuild," Calver states.
Interviews with World Relief President, Clive Calver, can also be heard on MSNBC and CNN at cnn.com/2000/WORLD/africa/03/02/africa.floods.01/index.html, www.msnbc.com/news/376136.asp, or on World Relief's web site at www.worldrelief.org.
World Relief is the international assistance arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.
For further information or to arrange interviews, contact Linda Keys at (630) 665-0236, ext. 202, or Victoria Vass at (630) 665-0236, ext. 215.