By Sma Phethuka

Strong winds ravaged and destroyed 510 households; still assessing at Sehlabathebe in the Qacha’sNek district leaving approximately 2550 people homeless. The strong winds ravaged Sehlabathebe from August 26th to 28th August 2021.

The rapid assessment done by the Society’s Divisional Secretary in collaboration with the District Disaster Management Team identified 38 households whose houses were completely destroyed as vulnerable needing urgent assistance.

On September 2nd a team from the Disaster Management office assisted with the following items; 46 matrasses, 6× 10kg piece, 90× 5kg beans, and 65 blankets. The items were distributed in the presence of different media.

According to the victims some of their houses have not only lost roofing but also the whole structure was destroyed.

According to a 27 years old Mrs Maamohelang Jane, it was very fortunate that they were not home when the house was eroded away by the strong winds early that fateful morning.

“Every time when there are these strong winds, I take my children with me to the neighbour’s house due to the fear that our house will be blown away. It eases my fear when I am at least with somebody older than me when it is windy,” she said.

Maamohelang explained that though they have a place where they hide, it does not make her feel comfortable because she does not want to inconvenience neighbours, especially with her family of nine people.

“I do not have money; I  have lost my food, children’s school uniform and clothes. It is uncomfortable to be asking for shelter with nine people who also expect to be fed,” she added.

On one hand, 80 years Mrs. Matsekiso Ramone explained that she had two houses, and that the other house has been totally destroyed while the other has some holes on the roofing.

“I am scared that if these heavy winds come again, I am going to lose my house. The house is also going to leak when its raining. I have been going to the village requesting neighbours to lend me their sail so that I cover the house; but could not succeed,” Matsekiso said.

She indicated that though she receives the old age grand, the money is not enough for her to rebuild her two houses because she lives with two great-granddaughters whose parents have neglected them and that it was five years now.

“These children are going to schools. I buy them uniforms; I make sure that there is enough food in the house so that they can eat well and participate well in class. I do not know where their parents are,” she shook her head.

She added that her kitchen stuff, which includes pots, containers, buckets, and plates have also been destroyed while some were blown away by the wind.

On one hand, the Counselor Mrs., Matsekiso Ntsitsi explained that they usually experience heavy winds, during this time of the year but last month’s experience was the worst.

             

house blown away by strong winds at Sehlabathebe      victims of strong winds receiving psycho-social support

She said a lady was blown-away by the strong winds when she was on her way to work. She is recovering at the hospital. She added that they have also lost livestock and are still assessing the number that was lost.

On the other hand, the Chieftainess of Sehlabathebe, Mrs. Matheko Makhaola explained that people have not only lost houses but also toilets. She explained that losing their toilets is going to force them to use old ways such as dongers.

“My people are also vulnerable to diseases that may be caused by the unclean environment,” she said.

Chieftainess Makhaola thanked the Society to have lent a helping hand to her people, saying she had seen other villages benefiting from the Society and that her people are being assisted as well. She encouraged that the Society should continue bringing hope to the hopeless.

The victims also had an opportunity to receive Mental Health and Psychosocial support that enabled them to recover from their ordeal.

In addition, villagers were given the Society’s Toll-Free number that they could call to report matters of disaster and Gender-based violence.

The Society was supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) through Disaster Relieve Emergency Fund (DREF).