During the last days of pregnancy, an expectant mother may feel as much anxiety as excitement. In the moments after, she may feel as much relief as joy. Sofia Chubongo must have felt those emotions in the extreme.
It was March 1, 2000. A month of excessive storms, including a cyclone, had sent floodwaters rushing inland to the East African country of Mozambique. Hundreds were known to be dead. Another 100,000 people awaited evacuation, including some 7,000 Mozambicans trapped in trees.
Sofia was among them. She had taken refuge above the Limpopo River, which had swollen in some places to 80 miles (128 kilometers) wide. Chubongo's situation was especially desperate: She was due to give birth.
After three days, rescue helicopters from the South African Defense Force arrived. At that same time, Chubongo went into labor. A soldier descended in time to cut the umbilical cord. The drama was captured by an army of international TV crews [source: BBC News].
While Chubongo and the baby, named Rosita, recovered in a hospital, their plight was broadcast around the world. By giving human faces to an overwhelming tragedy, they inspired a flood of donations to relief groups and aid from governments. They went on a worldwide fundraising tour. Their government gave them a new home and established trust funds for Rosita.
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