Today, 25 May, is Africa Day, a symbolic date that commemorates the official birth in 1963 of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of today's African 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 still faced by all its countries and to vindicate all the socio-economic advances they have achieved, including their liberation from colonialism.

The origin of this celebration can be traced back to the First Congress of African States in 1958. It brought together representatives from various countries and demonstrated the strong determination of these peoples to free themselves from foreign colonization.

At this Conference, the celebration of an African Freedom Day was proposed, and from that moment on, meetings between the different heads of state of the African continent continued to take place, where the so-called Organisation for African Unity was born on 25 May 1963, which was 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, and terrorist war, since 2017, which has displaced thousands of people from their villages and made them take refuge in safer areas, including Metoro and Pemba, which affects the social situation in these places, as the need for care for everything, including education and health, is increasing.

How has the pandemic affected them?

Moreover, the pandemic, which is universal and affected everyone, has special connotations here. Specifically in education in 2020, all school activities were cut off. Students had no classes or alternative activities. Even so, in 2021 they changed the school year. But in the same year, the pandemic protocols continued to have an impact, because in order to cater for everyone, the number of pupils in the groups was reduced and so they only went to school for two days and four hours, and this also continued in the first quarter of 2022. It does not take much to explain the serious consequences of this on a system that was already very weak.

The pandemic had an impact on all areas, including church services and pastoral activities. At the moment, normality is returning.

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, which takes care of the most backward pupils, and also attends to the needs of all kinds of displaced people.

It was also possible to reopen the nursery school, the pre-school, which was completely closed, started with a limit on the number of children and is now returning to normal. It caters to some 200 children aged 3 to 5 years.

Activities with missionary children and adolescents and youth groups have 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 promotes it thanks to the project "Caring for Health". At the moment the problem of child malnutrition has increased, due to a lack of resources and often due to the death of the mother. Thus, the Centre is trying to accompany these cases and is working with a baby milk project, which is 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. In various fields, I would like to highlight the attention to displaced people and young people.

At the moment we are 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 he was sworn in in the city of Pemba, with a lot of participation from the whole diocese.

The 22nd was the Jubilee of 100 years. The first Mission was opened on 22 May 1922. On that date the first missionaries arrived, the Monfortinos Fathers. Almost all the bishops of Mozambique and representatives of all the parishes accompanied this event, including the President of the Government.

These are just 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.