MOZAMBIQUE – The following report comes to us straight from Mozambique where residents fleeing from internal violence have been suffering, in desperate need of food and supplies. It’s written by Operation Blessing Program Manager, Clayten Gouws, who is based in nearby South Africa. The report gives a detailed inside view of how your love reaches out to people seeking refuge and provides relief in Mozambique throughout even the most challenging circumstances.
Day 1: Mozambique Relief Preparation
We arrived in Pemba, Mozambique, on a Monday. Next we drove about 125 miles west with our partners on the ground, LifeChild. Our journey brought us to an area where a concentration of internally displaced people (IDPs) have come to find safety. They’ve fled from the horrible violence that has been terrorizing the Cabo Delgado region.
Our goal was to bring relief in Mozambique through delivering food to 400 families who had recently arrived in the area seeking refuge. We also hoped to assess any longer-term ways we might be able to help.
Day 2: Food Distribution in Mozambique
Our first full day in the region of Montepuez involved us meeting with the local governmental Administrator. We needed to get approval to go into IDP camps with the food and supplies. Local cultural tradition dictates that we receive the blessing of these leaders. This will help protect us in case we face any push back from locals or the military at the roadblocks that lay scattered all over the area to protect cities from attacks.
With the blessing of both the local governor and the minister of health, we proceeded to the site where we would distribute food aid the following day. We passed through a very rural region. Even using the main roads, it took us over 2 hours to travel 20 miles to the camp because of rough terrain.
On arrival we met the local officer in charge of coordinating the flurry of IDPs who come to their office every day. Many of these people have walked as much as 300 miles to reach relative safety. With the help of compassionate friends like you, the camp will care for their immediate food and medical needs. Later, each family will be assigned a piece of land so that they can re-start their lives. Many of the people arriving still appear very much in shock from what they have seen and experienced. Too often, they suffer from malnutrition and are in serious need of medical intervention.
We were able to speak and engage with some of the people who had arrived at the office. They amazed us with their resilience and determination amid circumstances none of us could even come close to comprehending.
Day 3: Expanding Our Humanitarian Efforts
This morning we learned that the president of Mozambique, who grew up in the Montepuez area, had heard about the food distribution we had planned. He contacted us directly to ask us to bring more relief to another site, which he knew had yet to receive any kind of aid. At this request, we re-organized our food packs. We wanted to be able to assist both of the camps with sufficient food and supplies to help the displaced people get back on their feet.
Though this was outside of our original plan, we felt led to go along with it. We knew that building relationships like this would only benefit further outreach. It would open doors for Operation Blessing and our partner, LifeChild, to bring more relief in Mozambique in the future.
After loading two trucks to the brim, we headed off to the first distribution site. Only four weeks earlier, the camp had been nothing but bush and high grass. Now it contained many structures made from mud and bamboo, which have become the new homes for the IDPs. Thanks to Operation Blessing partners, we were able to provide food and supply packs to hundreds of families. We also had an opportunity to share the love of God with these people during their difficult time.
What grabbed our attention was the way local administrative officers had already marked out and planned a “neighborhood” for the IDPs needing to restart their lives. It included plots for each family, alleyways, and even roads for supplies and aid to be brought in.
A Worthwhile Outreach
The long trip proved to be well worth it. The encouragement, hope, and resources that we brought helped restore dignity to these hurting people and provide vital relief in Mozambique. I’m hugely honored to have been a part of this project. We would never have been able to do it without LifeChild, or without the support of generous Operation Blessing partners like you.
Please continue to pray for the people that we met. And pray the thousands of people who have had to leave everything they know and own to escape the violence in hopes of finding a place of safety and rest.
You can give a special gift today to victims of disaster and crisis at: ob.org/crisis