Itinerant Community of Cabo, Delgado serving persons displaced by war

The situation of the displaced people in the North of Mozambique stirred our sensibility, our hearts and our minds as we recall that “At the school of the Son of God, the Daughters of Charity learn that no type of distress should be foreign to them. Christ appeals constantly to their Company through their suffering brothers and sisters, through the signs of the times, and through the Church. Multiple are the forms of poverty… (C. 11).” Likewise, our Assembly theme invites and challenges us to go out to encounter our suffering brothers and sisters.

The Provincial Council, after reflection, consultation with the Sisters of the Province, and communication with Dom Luis Lisboa, Bishop of Pemba, offered our availability for and collaboration in various services for displaced persons in that region for a period of four months: January to May 2021. The Bishop accepted this with great joy and we began the mission on 07 January 2021 with four Sisters. We are happy to serve our brothers and sisters who suffer because of the armed conflicts unleashed by terrorists.

Serving Jesus in persons displaced by war

‘Truly I say to you: just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me.’ (Mt 25,40)

The work began in Pemba, the capital of the Province, where the displaced people arrived in boats, taken to camps, and waited for resettlement. This service was carried out in collaboration with Caritas Diocesana de Pemba. Several kits were distributed: food, kitchen, hygiene, clothing and agricultural; short celebrations of the Word were also conducted in small groups. Later, the Sisters of the Itinerant/Mobile Community moved to the district of Montepuez and were welcomed by the missionary team of the Mission San José of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, where they also reside. Initially, there were four Sisters and, thanks to the generosity of the Province, Sisters volunteered to take turns to serve in this mission. At present, there are six, two of whom are Seminary Sisters on apostolic training.

Montepuez is the second city of Cabo Delgado, Pemba. There are four resettlement camps with about two thousand families in each center. Most of the inhabitants are women, the elderly, and children. They live in extreme poverty.

These people were obliged to leave their land and all their possessions, fleeing the terror, war and violence that have plagued the northern region of Cabo-Delgado Province since 2017. They have travelled long distances on foot, crossed forests for many days and arrived at the accommodation centers wounded, sick, dehydrated and disfigured; some members of their families got lost in the forests and it is not known whether they are alive or dead.

Our service to these persons who are displaced include visiting the families in their huts, being close to them through a welcoming attitude and an attentive listening to their stories laden with deep sadness and pain. We also encourage them to try to cultivate hope and trust in God Who is our only refuge even though it is still very difficult to accept the condition of extreme poverty and the fact that they have seen family members beheaded by the terrorists. Many families weep inconsolably when they share with us the agony they have lived through in their villages. They have lost all that they hold dear… their families and the land of their birth.  They find themselves deprived of everything and live in an atmosphere of insecurity, mistrust, fear, and uncertainty.

In our service, we collaborate with the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary residing in Montepuez; together, we persuade the families to build their houses since they have no place to lay their heads (cf. Lk 9,58). These houses are made with local resources such as bamboo, clay and grass and we support their effort by giving tarpaulins as material for the roof.   We distribute blankets, mats, doors, packed food, clothes and other necessary items. We assist those who are sick and refer those with serious illnesses to a center run by the Doctors without Borders. We also provide spiritual accompaniment and distribute religious objects such as the rosary and teach those who do not know how to pray it.

Province of Mozambique

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