Large stormy depressions, called cyclones in this part of the world, strike Madagascar every year between January and April. After cyclone Batsirai caused major damage, we were asked by development worker Luciano to visit the communities he takes care of to get an overall view of the damage.
Because cyclone Emnati was already approaching, we had to postpone the whole flight program for several days. Our first destination was Nosy Varika which lies directly on the eastern coast. As we approached, we could already see major flooding over large areas. Countless rice paddies were under water and the roads were obviously blocked. Practically the entire rice harvest had been destroyed. As most Malagasy are self-sufficient and live primarily on rice, this is especially tragic. Many houses collapsed due to the floods or were destroyed by the strong winds.
Luciano was given financial support from La Reunion with which he was able to help those in need buy building materials and rice locally. After providing the financial support, Luciano held a brief thanksgiving service with the congregation. He encouraged them to place their trust in God, the true Provider, despite all of their losses. In the next village most of the rice harvest had also been destroyed. As a result, the price of rice had doubled and it had to be rationed: four cups of rice a day per family. This was not enough for larger families. The financial support Luciano provided was also very welcome here and was gratefully accepted. Towards evening we flew to Mananjary, where the eye of cyclone Batsirai hit land only 15km (9mi) to the north. We visited some more villages. It was the same picture everywhere. It is not easy to see how, following cyclones like this, the poorest are often hit the hardest. They do not have the money to build storm-proof houses.
Seeing how grateful the people were for any help impressed me very much!