Today, May 25, is Africa Day, a symbolic date that commemorates the official birth in 1963 of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of today’sAfrican Union (AU), a regional organization that brought together the countries of the continent. It was decreed with the aim of raising awareness of the needs that all its countries continue to face and to vindicate all the socioeconomic advances they have achieved, including their liberation from colonialism.
The origin of this celebration has its roots in the first Congress of African States in 1958. Representatives from several countries gathered there and showed the firm determination of these peoples to free themselves from foreign colonization.
At this Conference, it was proposed to hold a African Freedom Day and from that moment on, the meetings between the different heads of state of the African continent continued to take place, where the so called Organization of African Unity on May 25, 1963 and later changed to Africa Day..
Coinciding with this day, we spoke with the Daughters of Jesus who are in Mozambique.
Where are the Daughters of Jesus in Mozambique?
The Community of the Daughters of Jesus in Africa, as many of you already know, is mainly in the province of Cabo Delgado, in the north of the country, in the Mission of Metoro and in the city of Pemba, there is also a Sister in the Capital Maputo.
What is the current situation in the country?
The northernmost part of the province has been experiencing a situation of violence, terrorist war, since 2017, which has caused thousands of people to be displaced and take refuge in safer areas, including Metoro and Pemba, which affects the social situation in these places, as the needs for care for everything, including education and health, increase.
How has the pandemic affected there?
In addition, the pandemic, which is universal and affected everyone, has special connotations here. Specifically in education in 2020, all school activities were cut. The students had no classes or alternative activities. Even so, in 2021 they changed school year. But that same year the protocols of the pandemic continued to affect, because in order to attend to everyone, the number of groups was reduced and so they only went to school for two days and 4 hours, this also continued in the first quarter of 2022. It does not take much to explain the serious consequences of this on an already very lean system.
The pandemic affected all areas, including worship and pastoral activities. At this moment normality is being resumed.
Thus, taking into account the situation, there is a greater need for support in the school and the educational reinforcement group was created, or rather, resumed, to attend to the most backward students, and also to attend to the needs of all kinds of displaced persons.
We were also able to reopen the pre-school, which was totally closed, started with a limit on the number of children, and is now returning to normal. It serves about 200 children from 3 to 5 years old.
The activities with the missionary children and adolescents and youth groups started again, these are more from the parish pastoral, it must be taken into account that the majority of the population is Muslim.
In the parish there is also an alternative health center, with medicinal plants and natural methods, which, given the fragility of the public health system, is very necessary. FASFI is promoting it thanks to the “Caring for Health” project. At this time, the problem of child malnutrition has increased, due to lack of resources and often due to the death of the mother. Thus, the Center tries to accompany these cases and assists with an infant milk project, supported by a Portuguese organization: Amigos de Raul Follerau.
What new challenges are you facing now?
Pemba collaborates with the Pastoral Secretariat, accompanying the commissions. With several fields, I highlight the attention to displaced people and young people.
We are currently experiencing important events: a few weeks ago the diocesan youth meeting was held in Namuno, the first Mission in Cabo Delgado, with representatives from all the parishes of the diocese, 300 young people.
We have a new bishop and on the 21st was his inauguration in the city of Pemba, with much participation of the whole diocese.
The 22nd was the Jubilee of 100 years. It is the first Mission that opened on May 22, 1922. The first missionaries, the Monfortinos Fathers, arrived on that date. This event was attended by almost all the bishops of Mozambique and representatives of all the parishes, including the President of the Government.
They are a small sample of what is being done, the most important thing is perhaps to live every day with this community from which we learn so much.