Matarara (Mozambique): It began with a farmer who wanted to see how his neighbours had weathered a deadly cyclone. It has turned into an extraordinary grassroots relief operation that has helped thousands in rural Mozambique. Helicopters land in the farmhouse’s driveway. Aid workers in matching T-shirts sleep in tents in the front yard and on the roof. And hundreds of local subsistence farmers whose lives were swept away by the floods drop by to collect the food and supplies to start again.
“We’ve been at it for … three weeks? I’ve lost track of time,” the farmhouse’s sole resident in normal times, mango farmer Gilles van de Wall, told AP after another frenetic day. Visitors bring beer and bottled water to stock a straining refrigerator. Cyclone Idai hit this part of rural Mozambique particularly hard, with torrential rains draining down from the nearby mountains that separate the country from Zimbabwe. Rivers burst their banks leaving corn stalks hanging from electrical wires.