Inchydoney Beach, Ireland
January 5, 2015
Christmas morning a magnificent crowd gathered at Inchydoney Beach for the annual Christmas swim in aid of the Spiritan mission where I work in Mozambique.
Many believe it was the biggest crowd we’ve ever had. The amount raised was around €5,500 and that money has been used in areas such as health, education and development.
In this part of rural Mozambique it is very difficult for children to get an education. Many are orphans whose parents have died of Aids. Most parents have barely enough money to feed their children. A boy called ‘Alvaro’ has stopped going to secondary school because his family could not pay the registration fee – about €5. We help people like ‘Maria’ who has one more year left at medical school and will qualify as a doctor. We also assist people to gain employment with their qualifications. Paying school fees for people in third level costs around €500 a year.
There is much talk of economic growth in Mozambique with a high index of more than 7%. At the same time, poverty is rising. More than 55% of the population live in absolute poverty.
Mozambique is rated to be among the poorest countries in the world – at 185 out of 187. Illegal mining activities and exploitation by large foreign corporations worsen the situation. At the same time the people in power enjoy tremendous wealth.
Life is not simple or cheap in Mozambique. There is much bureaucracy. There are exorbitant landing fees in the airport even for relief and aid. There is excessive VRT on vehicles and reliance on old cars. Thankfully, the small-scale guerrilla war waged by opposition has recently ended. Electricity supply is poor in rural areas and most people cannot afford the cost.
Development in education and growing numbers of students reaching third level could produce a group of people capable of critical thinking. We live in hope and see small progress in many sectors of life in this country. Real honest, hard-working, but poor, people continue to need our help.
Fr. John Kingston, CSSp.