For vulnerable children affected by floods, hope is a kitchen utensil
Chokwe, 27 January 2013 - Salatiel Sitoe, 16 years old, was patiently waiting under the shadow of a leafy tree at the Chiaquelane accommodation centre in Chokwe, in the hard-hit province of Gaza, when he heard the Red Cross worker calling his name. The much-awaited distribution of emergency family household and kitchen kits provided by UNICEF was just beginning. He could hardly believe he was the first on the list to be given one, as there were countless displaced families from his community waiting together with him. He promptly stood up, anxiously made his way through the throng of women, men and the elderly sitting on the sand, took his kit and carried it back with relief and happiness.
As he recalls, he had to leave his home in Chokwe city very suddenly, when a red alert was declared and local authorities began telling everybody they should quickly leave the city because of rising water levels. He couldn’t even go to school where he is attending 8th grade.
“There was no time to take any belongings, and everybody was rushing to find any means of transport. Fortunately a friend gave me a ride right away to Chiaquelane accommodation centre where I found shelter along with some families from my community”, remembers Salatiel.
Suddenly he found himself homeless and with not a single tool or utensil to cook or even collect water with. The clothes on his back were all that protected him from the cold at night. Worse yet, he still had no word of his aunt or cousin, with whom he had lived in Chokwe since leaving his parents’ home in Chibuto to attend secondary school. At least there was the aid he was receiving at the camp to gave him some comfort and hope.
“I now have all I need to cook, eat, store safe drinking water and to keep warm at night. It has been tough since the flooding began, but I am really thankful for the support I am receiving here”, says Salatiel as he checks the mats, pots, pans, cups, cutlery and blankets in the kit he will be sharing with his shelter mates.
In Chiaquelane accommodation centre, there are at least 55,000 people from Chokwe’s many villages, and the numbers are rising as more families arrive. Many more like Salatiel are in need of help.
A total of 1100 family household and kitchen kits, each one for a family of at least five people, are being distributed by UNICEF at the Chiaquelane accommodation centre. As highlighted by Mariana Muzzi, UNICEF’s Child Protection Specialist, “priority is given to the most vulnerable families, particularly child- and elderly-headed households. We are working closely with community leaders, district representatives of Social Action, and with the Red Cross to identify these families”.
In coordination with the government and as part of the One UN response to the floods affecting Chokwe and Guija districts in Gaza Province, UNICEF has dispatched 16 water bladders benefiting15,000 people. In addition, 3000 bars of soap and other basic sanitation and hygiene items have also been dispatched. A hundred tarpaulin sheets for sheltering families were sent in, as well as high-nutrition biscuits (BP5) enough for 25,000 people, complementing partner food delivery to displaced families. 5000 family bed nets were also sent, as well as three hospital tents for both in- and outpatients. With UNICEF support, community and local radio stations have been broadcasting key messages on health, hygiene, protection, and related emergency action.
And more aid is being sent in every day. With evacuee numbers rising, it will be much needed. It’s going to be a long way back home for Salatiel and his mates at the camp, but in the meantime, hope is a pot, a pan, a semblance of home.
For more information, please contact: