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Cyclone Idai



Mid-March 2019, Cyclone Idai hit Beira in Mozambique and tracked across the country heading directly towards Chimanimani in Eastern Zimbabwe.

As the cyclone hit the mountain range it rose and unleashed an overwhelming amount of water in a very short space of time. Walls of raging water and boulders crashed into houses across the district destroying bridges and leaving the whole area inaccessible to the outside world. 

People were found strewn across the banks of the rivers and hundreds were swept away into Mozambique. A whole village in Kopa was completely destroyed. New rivers 70 meters wide formed where there once was no watercourse. Hundreds of mudslides litter the mountain ranges in the district with many mountains still very unstable and susceptible to dislodging. Sadly 172 people died and 327 are missing. Approximately 16 000 households require shelter.

Kilometres of roads were destroyed, and even after two weeks, many areas still remained inaccessible by road.

Operation Orphan deployed our Crisis Response Team to Chimanimani with the mandate to Identify, Make Safe, and Keep Safe children orphaned by the disaster. The team consisted of Brad Moore - Team Leader, Kezia Lawrence-Graham (Paediatric Nurse), Dr Balazs Fazekas and Dr Bence Fazekas, with UK operational support from the remainder of the team. The team also had Oni and Christine join them from within Zimbabwe to help with driving, documenting the response, and practical support.

The team inserted into Chimanimani via helicopter and 4x4 vehicles. Working alongside Social Services and the Ministry of Health, the team

  • conducted health checks on all the children in the IDP camps of Ngangu

  • distributed 120 family-size water filters and trained every household how to use and maintain them

  • gave all children under 5 years old a hand-knitted 6’x4’ blanket

  • donated 8 family tents to Social Services, selected with safeguarding in mind for the most vulnerable families

  • identified 16 disaster orphans.

Not only does Operation Orphan provide emergency care but the charity’s aim is to transition from the disaster response to long term care. The children have lost their family and our response is like that of a new family: just like a Father or Mother would care for their children. Helping the children to return to as normal a life as possible is essential in helping them process and deal with the trauma. At the forefront of their minds, as well as their new guardians, is the burden of the cost of education. They all know that without it, their future prospects are bleak.

Therefore, Operation Orphan has committed to covering the education costs of all 16 children identified as disaster orphans in Ngangu. This commitment will see them through to O Levels as a minimum. Sixth form and tertiary education is an option for those that have made the most of this opportunity. Twelve of these children are currently at school and four are not yet of school age. Any additional needs will be identified by Social Services, and with the support of donors, our aim would be to meet these needs.

Please consider setting up a standing order of any amount to help us cover the children’s school fees, uniforms, stationery and school bags. The following are the costs to keep a child learning:

Primary School - £12 per month per child

Secondary School - £25 per month per child


Operation Orphan would like to thank key officials in the Ministry of Health, Social Services, Civil Protection Unit and Zimra who worked with the team to ensure that the aid entered the country without duty, gave permissions for the team to operate, and helped us ensure all the aid was distributed directly to the affected people. A special acknowledgement goes to the Disaster Management Team in Chimanimani who handled a very difficult situation incredibly well and constantly strived for transparency and integrity.

Operation Orphan would like to acknowledge Kenya Airways for making the flight logistics simple and getting the 42 boxes of kit and aid to Zimbabwe.

A very special thanks goes to Stuart at FX logistics for the provision of a truck, fuel, and driver to carry the cargo from Harare to the Heliport.

Finally, special thanks to Myles (for getting the team a helicopter ride in), Dave and Irene for letting the team base at your house and joining us in the field, Nevha for your love and support for the children, Joshua and Blessing for collaborating so effectively to find the children and ensure they are safe, and Doug for your lift out of Chimanimani and the precious diesel.

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