I lost my son during the storms

Publié: 31 août 2015 9:30 CET

By: Charles Sebastiani Tanzania Red Cross Society, and David Fogden, IFRC

Henda Salum, a 58-year-old father of six, lives with his family in Mwakata, a small village in the Shinyanga region of Tanzania. On 3 March 2015, shortly before midnight, Salum was preparing for bed when rapid winds, accompanied by large hail stones, blew through the village. Salum’s homestead comprised three houses; one for him and the others for his children. “I was frightened,” he exclaimed. “I wanted to go out to check on the safety of my children, but it was impossible due to the wind and the ice, which had blocked the door.” 

After several hours, the storm passed and Salum was able to leave his home. “I resorted to breaking down the door, and could not believe my eyes once I managed to get out,” he said. “My children’s houses were damaged and the roofs blown away. All my crops, animals and belongings had also been washed away by the melting hail. I started to call for my children but didn’t hear any response, and since it was still night, I retreated quickly to take a flashlight and look for them. I kept calling out their names while I flashed the area, which was covered by ice. My feet were freezing since I didn’t have my shoes on.”

Later the children appeared, dirty and in shock, but Salum discovered that his youngest son, 12-year-old Sumba, was not with the others. During the night, the desperate father, with help from his neighbours, searched through the debris of the children’s houses where they found the dead body of his son, who had been trapped by a fallen door.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies released monies from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support an emergency response to the devastating storm, bringing relief to 3,000 people, including Salum and his family. And while this support could not remedy the loss of his son, Salum does appreciate the efforts of the Tanzania Red Cross Society. “I have received items including buckets, blankets, kitchen utensils, mattresses, mosquito nets and soap, which has helped us at this difficult time,” he said. “The items were received quickly, and my family and I are now rebuilding our lives. We are in the process of constructing a new home.”

The DREF has been partially replenished by DG ECHO, Red Cross National Societies in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the USA, as well as DG ECHO, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Medtronic, Zurich and Coca Cola Foundations and other corporate and private donors. The IFRC, on behalf of the Tanzania Red Cross Society would like to extend many thanks to all partners for their generous contributions.