Clotilde, 42, is a widow and a mother of two. She is one of the over 79,000 people affected by Cyclone Freddy that struck the Mananjary district on the evening of February 21. Clotilde’s family house collapsed, leaving her, her children, and her grandson homeless.
“Being displaced and homeless is not something new to my family. We experienced it last year when Cyclone Batsirai blew off our house, but this year has been hard because I no longer have my other half – my husband,” Clotilde says.
She continued: “Life could have been easier if he was still around. He was a carpenter. He died in another village. He was contracted to build a house in the neighbouring village but was not able to return home alive. We do not know what exactly happened, whether he died of hunger or not .”
When everyone was preparing for the landfall, Clotilde’s family had difficulty protecting their house against strong winds and heavy downfall. As a pre-emptive measure, Clotilde’s family stayed in a church along with other neighbours as a temporary evacuation site and came back to their house the next day, only to find out that their house was totally damaged.
“Living on the veranda for two weeks was hard. People see us struggling. Every Sunday, our neighbours would see and pass by us when going to church,” Clotilde says.
“I felt pity for myself and my family, but my daughter would always comfort me, saying that it’s not just us who go through this difficulty our neighbours are going through the same struggle as well,” she continued.
Clotilde admits that seeing their house a day after the landfall made her worried about how they will recover. “ The day I saw our house collapse, I had a sleepless night because I do not where to get money to build a house. The money we earn is not even enough for our food,” she says.
She continued: “I and my son sell bread and vegetables in the market. We earn around 3000 or 5000 Ariary per day, enough to have rice to consume for two to three days.” Clotilde’s son, Falimanana Joseph, 17 years old supports his sister and mother, as the only man of the family. According to Clotilde, her son is temporarily leaving behind his dream to become a teacher as circumstances make it difficult to achieve his dream.
Clotilde’s family is one of 100 households that have benefitted from shelter construction in the Mananjary district.
Before construction of houses, Medair conducted a two-day shelter training to educate families in building a safer houses and promote awareness of disaster preparedness. It was participated in by carpenters in the community, and local authorities for them to help each other in building their houses while the local officials supervise the repair and construction.
Since Clotilde cannot do hard labour, his brother, Dauphin, 52, came over to rescue his sister, helping his nephew build the roof and wall of the house with the help of other villagers.
With the new house, Clotilde is now having a sound sleep, no longer worrying about how to have a safe and secure place to stay. “I could never have built a house like this if not because of the people who have been helping us. You’re giving us so much hope to recover from a cyclone from another,” Clotilde, says, with her big smile, showing much hope and strength seen through her eyes.