by STAFF WRITER
NO ONE can prepare you for a loss. It comes like a swift wind. It was so too when the angel of death visited Chimanimani in the agency of tropical Cyclone Idai.
The violent storm possessed apocalyptic power – bringing a scale of death and destruction never before recorded in the country from a natural cause.
Cut off from the rest of the world, locals were left to themselves.
It was during this critical moment that Chimanimani Tourist Association (CTA) stepped in to save the situation.
The organisation that is currently being led by Jane High, Collen Sibanda, Timothy Mudhluyi, Tempe van de Ruit, Sandy Knight, Andy Woodruff and James Keegan with huge support from literally thousands who love Chimanimani organized the first coordinated response at a local level.
Tempe and her husband Doug van de Ruit who own Chimanimani Farm House facilitated the first relief helicopter that apart from being critical in establishing the extent of the damage and shaping rescue and relief efforts was also used to evacuate the first patients.
While Chimanimani Hotels appeared to take all the credit for opening up its doors to the public every single CTA member who owns accommodation also put up homeless people and volunteers at no cost.
It is therefore only fair that we applaud CTA, which has been in existence since 1994, in its entirety, and as the face of the local tourism industry as our heroes in the face of such adversity.
In fact, the iconic hotel was itself also made inaccessible with fallen trees of which CTA paid Matsetso youths to clear the way. They also provided firewood to warm up those who had sought refuge in it and for meals. CTA and its trainee Mountain Guides also provided transport, containers and water for the hotel during the crisis.
It was also CTA that ensured that kept Chimanimani in touch with the rest of the world as, after both Tel One and Econet networks went down after their generators ran out of fuel, it sourced, paid for and got them back up.
“CTA represents Tourism and the power of that Industry to transform lives… It was brought into the sharpest focus by this Cyclone. Those Trainee Guides were the heroes….
“People like Praymore Mwarumba who dug people up with their own two hands, buried their nearest loved ones and still went up to carry food and help to those in need. They are CTA….they did this for CTA because the Tourism Industry has given them hope for their lives going forward,” High said.
CTA has continued to assist by facilitating assistance from rebuilding homes and all forms of aid from food, clothing to shelter.
Without CTA – which shockingly has never really made it into speeches of senior government officials and politicians, things could really have been even worse.