Mozambique has been called an “African lion” – not because it is strong, but because it is stronger than it once was, having achieved modest economic growth and overcome bloody conflicts that plagued the country from the 1970s to the early 90s.
Our recent visit to Mozambique confirmed that image. We felt encouraged by the tangible evidence of change, even as our hearts were broken by the suffering of the poor, particularly young AIDS orphans rescued from hopelessness through the gifts of Cross Catholic donors. Mozambique is the ninth poorest nation in the world and has an average life expectancy of just 41 years; but you have to know where the country started before you can appreciate how far it has come.
During our journey over rough rural roads in Mozambique’s southern region, we were forced to detour around three downed bridges. Our guide explained that the first bridge had been destroyed by rebels, the second by neighboring Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and the third by his own government.
Though poor, Mozambique has enjoyed one of the highest economic growth rates in Africa during the last two decades.
These scars of war are a reminder that the current peace must never be taken for granted – especially in light of last year’s food riots – and that God’s grace must be sought daily. There are psychological wounds as well, for the adults who lived through the violence and the children who have lost their families to the AIDS pandemic.
But thanks to the political stability achieved in the mid-90s, combined with economic reforms and debt forgiveness, Mozambique has enjoyed one of the strongest economic growth rates in Africa. When we look at the current poverty, the most shocking (and encouraging) part is the realization that it was once far worse. That “big picture” perspective gives us hope that progress is possible, not just for individuals, but for society as a whole.
As Cross Catholic supports the work of local parishes and ministries throughout Africa, sowing seeds of love and hope among the poorest of the poor, we pray God will use our efforts to bring about a future harvest of prosperity, always moving forward, never backward. There is no land so remote or destitute that God cannot transform tragedy into triumph.