Mozambique is a beautiful country in southern Africa with more than 2500 km of Indian Ocean coastline. It is a country with untapped potential. However mass emigration, economic instability, an acute drought and a lengthy 16-year civil war have stifled the country’s development. Mozambique ranks poorly at 184th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index, a tool that measures a nation’s level of development, and nearly 80 per cent of its population lives in poverty. Mozambique has made some progress in terms of its stability, economy, and improved quality and access to health and education. Yet, there remain intractable issues including endemic poverty, disease and natural disasters.
The majority of Mozambicans eke out a living as subsistence farmers in rural areas where extreme flooding, alternating with seasons of drought and bushfires, plague the land and leave people extremely vulnerable and unstable. HIV/AIDS is rampant and is having a severe impact on the struggling country’s development. 670 thousand children are orphaned due to AIDS-related illnesses and 50 per cent of the population is under the age of 18 years.
Hands at Work has been active in Mozambique since 2004 in the central corridor region which links the port city of Beira to northern Mozambique, inland Malawi and Zimbabwe. Activities have focused on building infrastructure in incredibly poor communities and empowering local leadership.
Bringing Good News
Anita and Annabelle are two sisters living in Macadeira in Northern Mozambique. Their community literally sits on the highway 30 km north of the Beira corridor that runs straight into Zimbabwe. It’s a busy trucking route, which drives commercial sex work in the communities and intensifies the vulnerability of young women who live there. Anita and Annabelle are thankful to be able to attend a primary school in the community for now. But they know their dream of attending secondary school will bring real dangers. They’ll need to walk out of their community along the highway to another place to attend the school. They will face the pressures that all young vulnerable girls face in their community: to abandon the indulgence of school in favour of earning income to support their poor families. It’s a pressure too great for many young girls to bear, as evidenced by the incredible rates of HIV, pregnancy and school drop out in the area.
Hands at Work began working with local church and community leaders in Macadeira in 2011 by gathering the churches and demonstrating the heart of Christ to see His church united together in caring for the most vulnerable people in their community. To overcome their lack of material possessions, the churches are being trained to see the strength of combining resources and working across denominational lines. They are also being challenged to get deep into the lives of the poorest children, sharing their burdens and providing love, support and mentorship to address the enormous challenges they face daily. Change looks possible for the future.
Recently, the community’s leaders announced the plan to start making bricks from scratch with the aim of building their own secondary school. That is very good news for hundreds of children like Anita and Annabelle.