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March 21 2000

Mozambique - the first aid from the Community to the victims of the flood

 
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From the very first days of the emergency, the Community went into action to bring aid to the areas stricken by the flood.

The long and deep relationship with Mozambique has represented a source of precious help in these tragic moments: the dense net of relationships, the knowledge of the people and of the area and above all the commitment of the Mozambican communities themselves, have enabled us to reach even particularly isolated areas.

There follows is a short summary of the work done so far.

 

Calanga is a very isolated place in the Manicha district, where many refugees had gathered. We sent aid to the parish priest of Manicha, who was able to purchase a small boat to get to Calanga with the first delivery of food supplies. He is also buying: seeds, sweet corn, beans, peanuts, manioca, sweet potatoes and bananas.


At Manga works have begun on rebuilding the orphans' house, which gives hospitality to about 70 children. On the 22nd of February the cyclone "Eline" had taken the roof off.

 

On the 5th of March, in the presence of the Governor of Sofala, a ship with 32 t. of help left Beira for Machanga. It is one of the most heavily stricken areas in the country (the pictures of helicopters rescuing its inhabitants from the roofs of their houses have been round the world). The shipment, realised by the Community together with the Combonian missionaries, was an important initiative, because it was able to reach a place that was otherwise inaccessible.

After several difficulties with the sand-banks caused by the low tide, on the 7th of March, in the presence of the director of the Caritas in Beira, flour, oil, beans and soap were unloaded and distributed to the people in Machanga. The Community financed the expenses incurred by shipment while the Caritas paid for the food.

 

The city of Mambone is one of the places completely submerged by the water. The population, about 6,500 people, has found refuge mostly in the mission of the fathers of the Consolata and in nearby areas.

In the past years the Community had helped in the reconstruction of the salt-banks of Mambone, again collaborating with the fathers of the Consolata.

On the 8th of March the first relief truck left Beira, a mission realised thanks to the work of the local community of Sant'Egidio. Just a few days later another truck left. The roads weren't completely practicable as yet, but with the help of a tractor we were able to get the first aid to arrive: pots and pans to cook, mattocks, machete to open the roads and several tons of flour, beans and other food.

 

Another ship with 35 tons of food for 7 villages of the Chiloane area left on the 17th of March. In this case too it was the fruit of a commitment jointly undertaken by the Community of Sant'Egidio and the Caritas of Beira.

 

Milk and capulanas (traditional garments) were sent to Chibuto Wenela where more than 10,000 people are gathered.

 

Widespread distribution to help the poorest areas of Maputo continues as well: Polana Caniço, Boane, Liberdade, Matola, Benfica, to the families left homeless. Here the communities have always shown practical solidarity with the poorest people, in particular organising the "Peace Schools" for the children.

 

In such a troubled time of grief the loyalty of friendship reveals itself as the most precious thing, something that isn't driven away by the violence of the water or by natural calamities.

 

 

 

There is still need of a lot of help:

  • First of all food. The harvest was destroyed and at least until December it will be impossible to rebuild a situation of alimentary self-sufficiency. Highly nutritive food is needed: salt, sugar, peanuts, biscuits, corn flour

  • There is urgent need of medicines, soap, disinfectant products and other material to prevent contagious diseases, that quickly spread in situations like this, after a flood. There is also need of blankets and clothes.

  • We would also like to help rebuild the houses, especially in such places as the Polana Camiço where, because of the poverty, the bamboo houses were swept away by the violence of the water. And besides the houses there are also health centres and schools to rebuild.

  • We would also like the people to look at their future with hope again: that's why the sowing has to be done as soon as possible.


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