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Getting through African prisons: Friendship between the Community of Sant’Egidio with prisoners in Angoche, Mozambique.

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Getting through African prisons: Friendship between the Community of Sant’Egidio with prisoners in Angoche, Mozambique
7th August 2010

The city of Angoche, Mozambique, is on the coast in the region of Nampula. The streets are not always paved so only the lorries can get there. The road is not suitable for al the other vehicles.

The city had a certain relevance in the area, as a beautiful colonial church , the only restaurant “Café desportivo” and the port authorities witness.

After the end of the war in 19992, Angoche did not find its way towards economic growth. Moreover, a number of foreigners development workers left the area. After the last missionaries left, the only priest in the city is responsible for 4 parishes.

The Community of Sant’Egidio in Angoche can count a number of small communities gathering several times a week for the common prayer, running the School of Peace with the children and visiting the prisoners after the Mass every Sunday in the near prison.

The prison is just outside the city, very close to the seaside. The structural conditions are very bad. Three years ago, a storm lifted part of the roof of the prison: the 90 prisoners living there, coming from both Angoche and Mogicual areas, are piled in into the two cells still having the roof. During the day they stay outside in the sun, with no available shadow, in a place where the average temperature rarely goes under 35 degrees Celsius. The prisoners receive only one meal a day, beans and corn pudding.

A nurse comes to visit those who are ill from time to time but the little cell dedicated to the medical service is in bad conditions and it cannot be used for its purpose. Last year 36 prisoners died for cholera and malnutrition.
Due to the difficult conditions of the roads, prisoners’ relatives find very herd to get there to visit and to bring them food.

The Community is the only constant presence in the prison, being in charge of taking care of the prisoners where the families cannot. The weekly visit gives sense to the time, that otherwise would always be the same, every day: the attentions to the health conditions, to their clothes from the friends of the Community are a sign of humanity in a place where sufferance is usually the only guest.

From time to time they organise a party, a meal for all the prisoners. It not only gives the opportunity for an extra meal, richer in terms of nutrition (rice, meat and beans), but also to share friendship, to share a common sense of hope.

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