June Update from Mozambique
As Erik and I continue to settle into our new home, the prayers and support of our friends and family is continually appreciated and definitely felt by us and others. We are happy to share that we have successfully completed level one on our Portuguese studies and are enjoying the ability to have pleasant, albeit short, conversations with people here in Moçambique. After a short break we will begin level two.
Erik and I are also getting more involved in the church and the communities in and around Beira. The women of the church have been harvesting rice and not been able to have their regular meetings, but will begin meeting again in mid July. I have made plans to meet with them weekly and work on a variety of subjects, from bible studies to project management and even an English Corner. Erik has made plans to meet with the men’s groups and church volunteers. He was invited to participate in the last volunteers meeting that lasted all weekend, with the main event day starting at 7am and not finishing until 1am the following morning.
Both of us have been visiting a small clinic in a neighborhood of Beira called Inhamudima. It is a very poor neighborhood that struggles mostly with malaria, which is the number one cause of death in Moçambique. The clinic is a recently added outreach program of the church in Beira and the doctor who works there is also a member of the Igreja Congregacional Unida em Moçambique (ICUM, in English the United Congregational Church in Mozambique). The clinic offers consultations with a doctor, malaria tests, and some medications at a very discounted rate. A doctor visit cost a person 5 meticais, which is about 16 cents. While we are practicing our Portuguese we are also getting to know people in that community. Some of the patients’ first questions when they meet us and find out we are church volunteers are: “Where are your churches?” and “How can I start attending?” The ICUM has a small parish near the clinic and the church happily welcomes anyone who shows up on Sunday.
On June 25, Moçambique celebrated their Independence Day. It was a day when Moçambicanos celebrate with family and friends by going to the markets and buying fresh meats and lots of food and eating a big meal with everyone at their house. They also like to play music and dance outside until late at night. The city was decorated with flags and people gathered at the monument in Independence Circle to take group pictures. As Moçambique celebrates another year of independence, the celebrations seemed somewhat muted. Our Portuguese professor explained that although Moçambique is independent, people are still waiting for peace, justice, and equality. Every day convoys of civilian travelers are escorted by military vehicles on the main highway in Moçambique because people traveling are being attacked and shot at by soldiers from the former rebel movement Renamo. Renamo is fighting because they want equality in the democratic political system and to be reintegrated fairly back into Moçambiquan society. Some people have sympathy and support Renamo because they see and feel the effects of corruption in their developing economy when they struggle daily with lack of job opportunities and pay that still leaves them well below the poverty line. Despite their hardships, the people of Moçambique are proud to celebrate their independence, looking forward to the day when it is also a celebration of peace and equality.
As all of you back home celebrated American independence and the beginning of summer, be thoughtful of others who continue to struggle for peace and justice in their societies. Share a prayer with your church family in Moçambique that peace will be provided during this election year and that heavy burdens are lifted.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” Colossians 3:15
Kim and Erik Free serve with the United Church of Christ in Mozambique.