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Entries in Mozambique (17)

Snapshot: Mozambique

Mozambique is one of those countries that remind us how little we understand geography – especially in terms of comparable land masses. So, if you had to guess, which of our fellow United States would be closest to Mozambique’s size?

Here’s a hint: think big.

Twice the size of California, Mozambique is also larger than Texas. Only the land mass of Alaska can dwarf this country in southern Africa.

We partner with two churches to meet the needs of children in Mozambique. And these children have pressing needs – here are just a few of them.

Family Instability

Many factors put pressure on families in Mozambique. Unemployment is incredibly high, and some parents may leave the country in search of work. More often than not, children are left in the care of aunts, uncles, or grandparents because of the high rate of HIV/AIDS (it’s estimated that one in nine have the infection, the 8th highest rate in the world).

Child Headed Households

Perhaps it’s a mix of necessity and cultural expectation that older children will care for their younger siblings. Still, it’s amazing to see children with infants wrapped on their backs.

One of the most important resources our programs provide are role models in the caring adults who serve the kids, and the tutoring and educational support available at the projects. Recent studies showed that less than half of the population over the age of 15 can write. If you sponsor a child in Mozambique, sending letters provides a great exercise in reading and writing skills and provides valuable, tangible encouragement.

Did you know? Many children in Mozambique give their sponsors telling nicknames in the national language of Portuguese – madrinha or padrinho – godmother or godfather. This endearing term points to both the respect they have for you and the impact you have on their lives.

Do you sponsor a child in Mozambique? How have they honored the support and encouragement they receive from you?

Hibraimo: A Better Chance In School

When a child joins a One Child Matters program, do his parents notice a change?

Six-year-old Marielsy’s mother did. In a letter to her sponsor, a project worker relayed a sweet scene: 

“Marielsy says that when her family is having lunch she prays for the food and her mother cry of joy for having her praying.”

It could be the smallest little change, but what an encouragement to a parent’s heart!

Hibraimo’s mother had a similar experience. Her son was a shy little boy who was often scared of others. And yet after a year of attending one of One Child Matters' child development centers in Mozambique, her son was confident enough to correct her before dinner.

“I used to always eat without praying over my food,” his mother said, “but one day Hibraimo corrected me and told me that we needed to pray before we ate.” Where would her son have learned such a thing?

The child development center Hibraimo attends is like many of One Child Matters' programs around the world: it provides a space to minister to children physically, socially, educationally, and spiritually.

The last two areas were especially important for Hibraimo. Entrance into the Mozambican school system is difficult for two reasons: schools are overcrowded and places are limited for new students.

To make matters worse, there is no national preparatory kindergarten to help children learn how to learn. Mozambican schools start at first grade, but many young students do not have a solid foundation to begin learning and quickly flounder.

One Child Matters' programs, however, allow children to grow socially as they learn the basic educational skills needed to succeed in school. Hibraimo was enrolled before his 4th birthday but did not have much self-confidence. “When he started here he did not want to learn and participate,” his teacher says, “but now he has learned letters and numbers and is asking a lot of questions.”

After a year of attending the program, Hibraimo's reading and writing skills have progressed. Self-assured and quite helpful in the classroom, Hibraimo is well behaved and a great example to the other children.

No longer the shyest child in class, he is the first to befriend visitors and is always bringing new friends to Sunday school. Hibraimo also takes the Bible stories he hears to heart, remembering every detail. His teachers can only smile at his precociousness. “Every time I tell a Bible story and I say something that is not as he learned, he speaks up and corrects me and explains how it’s supposed to be,” she says.

Because of his mother’s proactive efforts, Hibraimo stands a much better chance of succeeding in school. The child development center he attends has a partnership with a local preschool, which helps ensure that Hibraimo will have a spot in the public school. When he starts first grade, he will do so with a solid moral compass and strong educational skills.

Have you noticed a change in your sponsored child’s confidence? Sometimes it is reflected in the child’s letters, but you can also see the difference in their pictures. Hibraimo has a wide smile, an eager heart, and a bright future because of your faithful giving. May you see such growth in the children you sponsor as well!

How You Are Fighting HIV/AIDS 

Did you know you are a fighter in the battle against HIV/AIDS? Here's how we -- because of your help -- are moving to address the needs of children in countries devastated by this disease.

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Walking Into Their World

If you got the chance to walk through your sponsored child's community, what would you see? How would your understanding of sponsorship change after you've sat in your sponsored child's home?

Kristina Garrison just returned from Mozambique, where she walked with other sponsors to visit children in One Child Matters programs. She describes the impact of one visit below.

What an incredible experience to see a child's face light up when they meet the man or woman who is making a LIFE CHANGING difference by providing food, healthcare, and educational help for the child.

Walking through the village was stunning. To see the shacks (as we would probably call them) that they live in was inspiring. They build the walls out of sticks, bamboo shoots, mud, clay, rocks and leaves. The roofs and doors are made out of scraps, tin and whatever else they were lucky enough to find.

Their homes consist of one, maybe two, 6 foot by 6 foot rooms where they eat, sleep, play and live. If they are lucky enough, few have kitchens separate from the house.

The kitchen is maybe a 4-foot by 4-foot room built also of found materials where they cook the meals over an open fire. The bathroom is usually a separate structure made of cement blocks that one has to crawl into and squat over an open hole.

People in the village were so kind as we walked through, peeked onto their property and greeted them. We even got to see children stomping corn to make corn meal.

One of the girls that was sponsored in my group walked hand in hand with her sponsor the entire morning. She kept smiling from ear to ear and giggling every time she looked at her sponsor – she was so so so grateful and it showed all over her face.

When we neared her home, she ran with excitement, then stopped to wait for us, before running again. She couldn't even stand still. She was thrilled to show us her home and introduce us to her family. Her sponsor was a blessing and brought her a backpack of gifts, which she was able to open with us, and be shown how to use some of the items.

The look on her grandparents' (guardians) faces was so beautiful. They were filled with joy that someone was going to help them take care of the girl. They thanked the sponsor over and over and hugged her frequently.

Before we left the little girl hugged the sponsor one more time and said "Goodbye Mother" in Portuguese. It was so beautiful, many of us who were nearby broke into tears.

How crazy that only $39 a month gives these kids so much. Not only do they get cared for, but it lifts some of the burden off her grandparents and siblings who normally would have to share the rations with her. Sponsorship in this village is an amazing gift and true blessing to these children.

Picture This: A Mozambican Welcome

A mission team is in Mozambique, ministering at the One Child Matters program in XaiXai. The internet is spotty at best, so they cannot send pictures -- but we don't think it's necessary the way the team shares about its first day at the project!

Today was a very emotional day. There are few words that can express the emotions you're filled with when you're surrounded by 100+ kids with outreached hands all trying to welcome you into their community. This is what we experienced today while our hearts raced a mile a minute as we were greeted one by one by with tight hand squeezes and the beautiful sound of children singing.

Our bodies were filled with smiles and joy as we were surrounded by wide eyes and large beaming smiles. The children were as intrigued by us as we were by them. We took half an hour to feel each other out and realized that we were all excited to be in the each other's presence.

In this village, it is custom to be welcomed by a song -- little did we know the song would be sung BEAUTIFULLY by a small boy who could've been no older than 11. He brought tears to our eyes and warmth to our hearts as he praised God and welcomed us into his world.

We danced, sang, and listened to the ministry as the children battled over who would hold our hands and take the seats next to us. After the service, we played patty-cake with the girls, took pictures with all, and made the trek back to the bus hand-in-hand with our new tiny friends.

We went into the day nervous about the language barrier, but were quickly put at ease upon realizing that a smile or a hug means FAR more than any words. The day was overwhelming, but in such a good way. When we went to leave, no one wanted to. We cannot wait until tomorrow to start our work, hold more hands, and spread MANY more smiles in hopes of changing even just one life while we're here.

Staff In Need Of Urgent Prayer

Please pray for our ministry partners and friends, Charlotte and Mitch Hildebrant, who oversee our child development centers in Swaziland.

We rarely request prayer for individual staff members, but this is an exceptional case. Our dear friends and partners in ministry, Mitch and Charlotte Hildebrant, need your prayers.

Mitch and Charlotte are the directors for Children’s Cup – Africa, our partner in Swaziland, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. (Before that, they worked with One Child Matters and Bethesda Christian Broadcasting!)

UPDATE: Mitch has had a second abdominal surgery and is recovering well. Praise the Lord, he has not needed another chest tube. We are praying for cotinued healing. More updates in the prayer requests below.

In the middle of March, Mitch went to the hospital in Swaziland with appendicitis. During the appendectomy, the surgeon discovered a (thankfully benign) tumor in his intestines. Since then, however, Mitch has had serious complications, including pneumonia, dehydration, and several severe infections. (You can read more about that here.)

He was eventually transferring to a hospital in South Africa with better medical resources, but doctors are still struggling to address these pressing health issues, and they face several more weeks of treatment and recovery.

Our heart aches for our friends, because we know their hearts long to be on the field ministering to the kids in Swaziland.

We also know we have some serious prayer warriors in the Mission of Mercy family (after all, the last time we asked for prayer, God stalled a major cyclone and sent it away from southern Africa)!

Please join us in praying for Mitch and Charlotte. Here are a few specifics:

  • Please pray against a second intestinal leak, which could lead to major infections and another surgery. Also pray that Mitch’s wound from the first surgery would heal supernaturally fast.
    UPDATE: There was a second leak and a second surgery the 3rd week in May. Thankfully Mitch has responded well and it looks like his intestines are functioning. We are praying this will be the last major surgery and he can move on to healing from here!
  • Please pray for minimal pain during dressing changes, that his oxygen levels will be high and his blood pressure low. Please pray against the multiple infections, especially those which have settled in his lungs.
    UPDATE: This is still an accurate request. Keep praying against infection!
  • Please pray against the anxiety this situation naturally produces in Mitch and Char, and in their families who are so far from them during this scary time. Please pray for peace and solid rest for Mitch and Charlotte. Please also pray for the Children’s Cup staff who continue to serve the children in One Child Matters projects.
    UPDATE: Mitch's mother is now in South Africa with Mitch and Char, praise God. Please continue praying against anxiety, which is affecting Mitch's breathing. Please continue to lift up the Children's Cup staff as they are short-handed and still trying to serve the children faithfully.

Friends, we are grateful for your partnership in prayer and for the children. We trust that the Lord, who made healing a major focus of His ministry on earth, will continue to provide for Mitch and Charlotte.

How We're Praying This Week

So much is happening all over the world -- here's how you can join us in prayer for our projects and the areas we serve.

PRAISE: Confounding all storm path projects, Tropical Cyclone Irina HAS TURNED AND HEADED OUT TO SEA! We had asked for prayer late last week as initially Irina looked to hit our projects in Swaziland and Mozambique.

To our amazement and, frankly, God’s glory, the storm is no longer a major threat. This is fantastic news because it is harvest season in this region, and the heavy wind and rains from this type of storm could devastate a much-needed maize harvest.

Current forecasts show that Irina is weakening as it spins over the colder waters of the south Indian Ocean. We are praying that Irina continues to weaken and stays far, far away from our children and projects in southern Africa.

TRIP PRAYER: A women’s mission trip to Cambodia leaves on Thursday, March 8. This diverse team of 40 women will serve Mission of Mercy’s Mechrey Floating School as well as the projects in the Siem Reap area. We are praying for safe travels, and that all of their supplies arrive safely in country!

PROVISION PRAYER: We’re also praying for our projects in Lebanon, as more and more refugees flee the violence in Syria. One of our projects is especially close to the Syrian border, but many of our programs serve the refugee population in other areas of Lebanon.

As the influx of exiles grows, so too does the strain on infrastructure, increasing the chances that refugees will face discrimination from established families already struggling to get by. In addition to praying for a quick resolution to the violence in Syria, we are praying that the fleeing families are finding sanctuary, and that those receiving them are able to provide help to them.  

UPDATE: Cyclone Turns Toward Ocean, Prayers Still Needed

Image courtesy of the Pacific Disaster Center's Global Hazard Atlas. For updated storm pictures, click on the image to be taken to their website. March 4 UPDATE: Your prayers are working! Tropical Cyclone Irina has shifted course and is not following the path initially projected.

As our friends and staff in Swaziland shared, "a strange phenomenon has the cyclone circling in the ocean. 'Strange phenomenon'... LOL... yeah, we know His name!"

Please keep praying with us. The new projections still pose some risk for our project in Xai-Xai, Mozambique, especially, which already suffered major damage from previous storms in January. The areas our projects serve are marked with white dots in the image above.

Please continue to cover them in prayer, that Irina continues to turn and does not hit Xai-Xai or other areas in Swaziland or Mozambique.

The original March 2 Path and Request:

Tropical Cyclone Irina as of March 2. Image courtesy of the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System/UN/EC. Our friends and staff in Mozambique and Swaziland are coveting your prayers as Tropical Cyclone Irina heads their way. Expected to make landfall in the next 24 hours, Tropical Cyclone Irina is gaining strength; the Mozambican cities of Xai-Xai and Maputo, where Mission of Mercy has two projects, are in its path.

The storm is also projected to hit Swaziland, and many in the area are already fearing damage on the scale of a 1984 storm that devastated the region. As the maize (corn) harvest is approaching, the expected flooding and wind damage could have disastrous effects on the nation's food supply.

Please join us in praying that Cyclone Irina changes its course. These two nations are still recovering from the havoc wrecked by two massive storms in January. We are standing with the children, their families, and the staff that serves them in prayer. Please pray with us!

We will keep you posted as we learn more information. As always, if your sponsored child is directly affected, we will contact you as soon as possible. If you would like to help us anticipate the needs in these two countries, please consider a donation to the Children's Crisis Fund.

Same Country: New Prayer Request

Cyclone Funso's projected path as of 5pm January 24th may avoid areas our programs serve. Image courtesy of the Pacific Disaster Center's Global Hazard Atlas.

UPDATE: Cyclone Funso's path is taking it out to sea. Praise God with us that our friends in Mozambique and Swaziland were spared more storms.

When it rains, it pours. And that’s definitely happening in Mozambique and Swaziland. Less than a week after Tropical Storm Dando made landfall and ruined both church buildings and homes in the communities we serve, now Cyclone Funso is threatening.

Today it strengthened to a Category 4 storm with winds over 130 mph. Thankfully, it seems to be drifting along the Mozambique Channel and has not veered inland.

We are praying Cyclone Funso continues on its projected path and skirts past Mozambique and Swaziland. Still, bands of intense storms are raking across southern Africa. Even Bulawayo, Zimbabwe is getting large amounts of rain. (You can see the general location of our projects in the white dots on the image above.)

As the ground is already saturated from Tropical Storm Dando, the aftereffects of Funso can still cause major damage. Please join us in praying for the safety of the children and staff in Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe, especially those who may be staying under damaged roofs.

The weather reports show another round of storms brewing behind Cyclone Funso -- please pray with us that those storms also miss these beleagured countries. But if they don't, we pray that God will be making a way for those in the storm's path to find shelter and hope. And may His church continue to move to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters around the world.

You can help Mission of Mercy respond to crises like cyclones and floods with a donation to the Children’s Crisis Fund. In the past, funds have been used to rebuild homes, provide medical treatment, and allow the staff to meet the most pressing needs in a community. Thank you for your continued support of our friends and the children they serve!

Praise: Children OK In Mozambique

Fernando, a Mission of Mercy sponsored child, was inside his home when it collapsed but escaped without major injury.Friends, we are so thankful to tell you that the children and staff at our Xai-Xai program were not injured in Tropical Storm Dando.

We do know, however, that many of the children's homes were severely damaged. Many homes in Xai-Xai are built of reeds and thatch and could not withstand the wind and rain.

The lightweight nature of the materials was also a bit of a blessing for children like Fernando pictured at left, who was inside his home when it collapsed. Thankfully he escaped with little more than a few scratches.

As you can see, much needs to be done to help rebuild the Xai-Xai community. You can help by making a donation to the Children's Crisis Fund, which is available for children whose homes were destroyed. As we reported earlier, we are also raising funds to repair the roof of the Xai-Xai project's building (which also acts a church).

We appreciate your prayers and support for the residents of Xai-Xai. These difficult times also provide an opportunity for the love of Christ to become tangible for those who have so little. Thank you for all you do.  

Tropical Storm Hits Mozambique

Weather as of 1pm MST, January 17. Image Courtesy of TerraMetrics via Weather Underground.We are asking for your urgent prayers for the children we serve in Mozambique, as they recover from the effects Tropical Storm Dando.

With forceful winds and heavy rain, Dando wreaked havoc in Mozambique, and in Xai-Xai (pronounced shy-shy) in particular. Today we received reports that the roof of the building that served as the project and church was ripped off.

The staff in Mozambique are in the process of checking on the children registered in our programs. As always, please know that if your sponsored child was directly affected, we will contact you personally; however, given the general state of things this may take some time.

If you would like to make a donation to help Xai-Xai rebuild, or to help the children and their families repair homes that were damaged, please consider making a gift to the Children’s Crisis Fund. Mission of Mercy relies on the CCF to respond and rebuild in situations like these.

Thankfully, Tropical Storm Dando has slowly lost intensity after making landfall, but is still dumping rain in Mozambique and Swaziland. Please pray for the children whose homes may have been damaged. May the Lord be their protection and keep them dry. And may His church rise up beyond the building itself and continue to serve this community.

Christmas Wishes In Every Language

In the coming weeks you should receive a Christmas card from your sponsored child, and on it will be Christmas wishes in their own hand. We love this time of year because you can see the anticipation of Christmas in the children's heartfelt wishes. 

But very few of the children in our programs speak English -- so what do their Christmas wishes look like?

In most of the countries in which we work, the language spoken does not use a Latin or Roman alphabet such as what we use in English or what many of the countries in Africa or Central America use above. 

Yet the result is just as beautiful. Several countries, such as the Philippines and India, have regions that use different languages or dialects, which are represented below.

And then there's the Middle East, where Christ and the Christmas season was born. What wonderful wishes!

It's a bit early to wish you a Merry Christmas, but we can't help getting in the spirit! 

Tour Of Homes: Africa

Homes in Sub-Saharan Africa reflect an ingenuity fitting of their sparse environment. Could you build a home out of mud, sticks, and tin?

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Preview: What's The Weather Like?

As you eagerly anticipate spring and all its joys (flowers, warmer temperatures, allergies), your sponsored child may be preparing for another season entirely.

To give you a taste of what's to come, did you know that the names of the seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) apply the same way regardless of where you live -- it is the months they apply to that differs.

For example, while we anticipate spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere is entering autumn. For those of you who sponsor children in Swaziland and Mozambique, this is particularly important -- while we are expecting warmer weather, they are gearing up for colder weather... which may not seem all that cold to you! Swaziland and Mozambique's coldest months are called winter, but their winter is from June to September, roughly speaking.

Enjoy the signs of spring, and check back for more fun facts as well as how you can talk to your child about the seasons and what you experience here!

Nothin' But Net

Four quarters. A leather ball. A rectangular court with a hoop on each end. Think you know this game? It's sweeping the globe but it's not what you'd expect...

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The Support Of A Child Development Center

This week we’ve been talking about the importance of education and how we can help. So how is your sponsored child's education supported at the project level?

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Football/Futbol/Soccer: What's In A Name?

If you sponsor a child, especially a boy, odds are you’ve read that his favorite sport is football. Is that the same as soccer? Why do we call it soccer, anyway?

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