News Release

The Church of Jesus Christ Donates Millions to Flood Relief Efforts in South Africa

More than 8,700 households in the flood-ravaged province of Kwazulu-Natal will be assisted through this contribution.

Following the widespread floods that left scores of families in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa bereaved and destitute, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated R15 million (nearly USD-$1 million) to the Department of Social Development to provide relief to those affected.

The donation from the Church comes after the floods not only ravaged roads and buildings but locals’ homes and livelihoods as well.

On Friday, June 17, 2022 leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with South Africa’s minister of social development, Lindiwe Zulu, and leaders of KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Social Development to determine the damage and loss incurred. They also discussed what the Church can do to help affected locals rebuild their lives.

Phillip Moatlhodi, who leads the Church’s humanitarian arm in the Africa South Area, said that the Church stands ready to assist with building materials, food and other necessities. “We intend on assisting a minimum of 8,750 households in a period of four months. Although our assistance will not alleviate all the challenges, it will alleviate some of the challenges,” Moatlhodi assured.

The Department of Social Development has appointed nonprofit organisation, Action Development Agency, to administer the relief. A June progress report from the department reflected that approximately 8,600 houses were destroyed, and another 13,500 houses were partially damaged by the natural disaster. At last count, the floods have rendered 6,900 homeless and affected more than 85,000 people in the province.

One of those people is Happiness Vidimela, a resident of eNsimbini township in Mayville, west of Durban. Almost two months after the floods, Vidimela, her husband and their three children aged 13, 9 and 11 months are still forced to call a local church home. They they share this home with over 50 other people.

Thinking back to the day that they were hit by the flood, Vidima said that what looked like a normal rainy day quickly became the scariest day of her life. 

“My children and I were home when it started raining on that fateful day. From my window, I noticed how the river levels were steadily rising. Soon after, I noticed how a few shacks near the river were being swept away,” Vidima recounted. “I then said a short prayer in my heart asking God to protect me and my children, unaware that I too was in trouble. Several shacks were about to collapse and tumble on ours,” she said.

Through the help of her husband and neighbors, Vidima and her children safely made it out of their home, with nothing but their lives and the clothes on their backs. The news of the disaster relief donation from the Church brought visible excitement to Vidima.

“I have no words. I just have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and peace that the Lord had not forgotten us,” she said.

"I can finally eat and sleep"

Zandile Sigwebela, a member of the local residents’ committee in eNsimbini, said that the donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had taken a weight off her shoulders.

“I can finally eat and sleep, knowing that all those that were affected by the floods will be well taken care of,” Sigwebela explained.

Church members, on Saturday, returned to the local Church where Vidima and others reside, bringing meat, vegetables, fruits, detergents, toiletries, baby formula, toys, gas canisters and other necessities. 

"Opportunity to contribute in every small way that we can"

Elder Dube, a member of the Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Africa South Area, extended his heartfelt sympathies to the families and communities that have been impacted by the floods. “Our thoughts and prayers reach out to those who have suffered because of these devastating natural disasters,” he said. "We mourn with those who have lost their loved ones and extend our sincere condolences to them,” he said.

Elder Dube went on to express his gratitude for the Church’s partnership with the South African government. “We value our long-standing partnership and are pleased with the opportunity to contribute in every small way that we can, as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said.

The Church has also collaborated with the Domino Foundation, CityHope Disaster Relief and the South African Red Cross Society, among other foundations, to provide further disaster relief in response to the floods.

Minister Zulu commended the Church for the generous contribution. In a letter to Church leadership, she said: “Since the advent of [the] COVID-19 pandemic, the violent uprisings of 2021 and now more recently the flood disasters in KZN, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has and continues to be in the frontlines of our national efforts to render immediate humanitarian relief, recovery, reconstruction and rebuilding initiatives in areas where humanitarian relief is needed most.

"We value the strong collaborative partnership with you and look forward to its long continuance.”

The minister also called on other members of society to get involved in “building sustainable communities.”

“Next year should the rains come in the same way, we shouldn't find ourselves in the same situation. We must have changed how the members of our communities live,” Minister Zulu concluded.

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