Ana’s Story

Ana was at home walking in the garden with her mother when she first found out about the Cyclone. She had been helping her mum plant some sweet potato and okra when a neighbour approached their house.

An ADRA worker had told the community leader that a strong storm was approaching, and their emergency safety plan needed to be implemented. News spread quickly throughout the community; everyone was busy preparing for the incoming Cyclone.

Ana remembers feeling sad about this news, she was on her summer school holidays and wanted to keep playing in the garden with her mother. What would happen to her now?

Shortly after her neighbour had told her family this news, her father and uncles arrived at their house and began boarding up all their windows. They worked fast and used whatever material was available to protect the home. They left shortly after to help board the windows at their church and school.

Her mother stopped planting the new seeds and began harvesting all their other plants — ginger, cassava, chilli, and even started picking all the bananas off the tree. The bananas didn’t look ripe and a lot of the cassava was not yet big enough to be picked. Ana’s mum was very worried. Any food that wasn’t harvested by the end of the day could be destroyed, meaning there would be less to sell at the market and less for the family to eat.

Ana’s brothers were cutting down big branches from the trees and gathering their chickens into the coop. A lot of work went into preparing the home for disaster

Before a disaster, preparation is important. People were encouraged by ADRA to protect their homes, and harvest what they can as their crops can be destroyed. People were advised to remove any potential hazards such as larger branches and trees to prevent any further damage and keep any cattle and pets in a safe place.

The next morning, Ana was told to pack a bag. She was only allowed to take one toy with her, the rest of her bag contained her water bottle, matches, soap, clothes, and breakfast crackers.

She and her family then had to leave their home behind and walk to their nearest evacuation centre, Ana’s school.

Fortunately, their community had an evacuation plan, meaning they knew where their nearest evacuation centre was and were able to get there quickly and safely.

Usually, Ana was very excited to go to school, but today was different. In each classroom, there were blankets and mattresses spread out where her desk used to be.

In the afternoon, the usually sunny sky was dark, then the rain began to fall. Everyone was quiet, but the wind and storm grew louder. Ana tried to sleep but was too afraid of the storm.

When ADRA works in a disaster-prone community, we help communities organise mass evacuation plans and build structure and livelihoods that are resilient to disasters.

The morning after cyclone Yasa hit, Ana saw first-hand how ADRA helped her village.

On the walk back home, Ana saw roofs torn off her neighbour’s homes, walls had been knocked down, and debris was scattered along the streets.

Ana’s home was still standing but her garden was destroyed. All her mum’s vegetables that were still in the ground had been ruined, and some of the trees had been blown into the neighbour’s yard.

This devastated Ana’s mother, the immediate relief of surviving the storm was quickly forgotten. Ana’s mother worried how she would feed her family, the vegetables that she had saved before the storm would only last the family two weeks. She would need to get back to the field immediately to provide for her children.

Inside the house, there was no electricity and the water from the tap was brown and unsafe to drink.

Ana’s brothers took turns carting buckets of water to their home from the nearby river, but even this water looked dirty and unsafe.

Shortly after arriving home, Ana noticed a group of workers from ADRA arrive at her village. Her neighbour whose home had been destroyed was given a building kit, this was filled with tools, materials, and cyclone strapping so they could rebuild their home stronger.

Her mother was given a hygiene kit, this contained soap, sanitary pads, toothpaste, a toothbrush, laundry soap, a 20L bucket, a container for storage, and a water filter. Ana’s mother began to cry when she received this, although it didn’t fix every problem, if meant her family could drink
clean water, the family could keep clean and minimise the risk of disease, and there was hope because someone cared about her.

While the road to recovery was still long, their immediate needs were met, and they were able to survive thanks to their preparedness and immediate help after the disaster.