Cyclone Idai: St. Charles Lwanga students find new school in Chihota

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By Mashonaland East Correspondent

Marondera: A total of 45 former St. Charles Lwanga High students in Chimanimani who were in March affected by the tropical storm, Cyclone Idai have managed to secure places at UMAA Institute in Chihota, Marondera rural.

St. Charles Lwanga, a Roman Catholic-run church, failed to re-open for the second term after the devastating cyclone caused extensive damage at the boarding school in March this year.  Two students and one staff member from the school died when the rainstorm hit the area.

The other students had to spend two days with their dead colleagues before they carried the corpses on foot for 15km as they sought transport to get to Mutare. Chimanimani had been cut off from the rest of the world after extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure.

Over 400 people in Chimanimani, Chipinge, Buhera, Gutu, Bikita and Chivhu were killed by the storm while some 50 000 were displaced most of whom are currently living in shelters.

However, some parents of affected pupils felt it was appropriate to keep the children together at the same school where they would be able to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and settled for the UMMA Institute.

Touched by the traumatic experience that the students went through in March, a team of volunteers from a German organisation, Friends of Waldorf Education, is currently at the school and offering the affected students psycho-social support.

“We were touched by the plight of the students and we are happy that they are responding well to the support we are offering,” Larissa Kullmar, one of the volunteers said.

In an interview with, UMAA Institute principal, Cleopas Kundiona said the PTSD programme had helped the students cope and managed to deal with their ordeal.

“As an institution, we decided to offer the pupils our facilities for learning after their school was destroyed,” said Kundiona.