Comboni Lay Missionaries

“Seeds” project assists cyclone Gombe victims in northern Mozambique

LMC Carapira

Since March when the powerful cyclone Gombe hit Carapira in northern Mozambique, destroying houses and farms. We, the CLM, have been working to alleviate the suffering of the population. Always in partnership with friends and people with good hearts.

With the help received from Brazil it was possible to carry out small projects. Among them the seeds project.

This Wednesday, November 23rd, we started the first phase of this project, which consists of delivering 5 kg of corn and 3 kg of beans to the most vulnerable families for planting.

The benefited families have the commitment to return the same amount received at harvest time, so that we can continue the project.

The Carapira Parish is composed of 94 communities divided into 5 regions with 22 zones. We chose to make the delivery in each zone to facilitate the access of the families.

The second phase will be on the 29th of this month. And the third will be at the beginning of December.

In this project there are more than 300 families contemplated.

On behalf of the families and the people of Carapira, I thank everyone who generously gave a little of what they have to help those who have even less.

God bless you all.

CLM Carapira

New GEC meeting in Brazil

LMC Brasil

At the meeting of GEC (Comboni Spirituality Group) São José Operário Parish – Carapina/Serra/ES held last night (11/21/2022), we had the presence of Father Xavier.

He told us his life and mission story, details and curiosities about the projects carried out in Santa Rita, a city on the outskirts of João Pessoa in Paraíba.

Chico started the project with recyclable material collectors, Father Xavier joined the project and started working with children and teenagers, daughters and sons of the collectors and other residents of the neighborhood.

His words echoed in our hearts. A life story where we find faith incarnate. Total giving.

Autor: Tranquilo Dias, Grupo de Espiritualidade Comboniana da Paróquia São José Operário/Espírito Santo

Education from the countryside for the countryside

LMC Brasil

It is time for another assembly of the Rural Family House, an association formed by country people, ex-students and people who believe in this proposal. The Comboni family present in Açailândia is part of this project, being directly involved Dida and Xoán, Liliana and Flávio, and Fr. Joseph.

The house offers a three-year technical course in agriculture and cattle raising, combined with high school, through the alternating cycle pedagogy.

There is a song that says: “I won’t leave the countryside to go to school. Education in the countryside is a right, not a handout.”

The goal of this space is exactly this! By enabling young people from the countryside to improve the profitability of family property, we reduce the rural exodus and promote family farming, also inserting agro-ecological techniques.

The school serves students from Açailândia, neighboring towns, and also from more distant cities, with students from three different states (Maranhão, Pará and Tocantins).

In the debate about the challenges faced by the school and that involve financial costs, one of the mothers present pointed out, “We are an association, we can collaborate and with the little of each one, we will get what is necessary.”

And so we go sowing in the collective construction the search for better conditions for farmers and peasants, and with this generate a seed of a better world.

CLM Brazil

Missionary retreat in Balsas (Brazil)

LMC Brasil

Retreat with the theme “Comboni Spirituality and the social commitment of the Church” in the diocese of Balsas/Maranhão – Brazil.

The Comboni Missionaries have left the diocese of Balsas in 2017, after 65 years of presence, marked by many achievements, both in the life of the communities, in the formation of leaders, as well as in the social part and in the infrastructure of the city itself.

Dom Valentim Meneses, the current bishop who took over the diocese in 2020, after the death of the previous bishop, invited the Comboni Missionaries to organize a retreat for the leaders of the communities, highlighting the social commitment of the church.

Thus, the Comboni family present in Piquiá/Maranhão, with the support of the Comboni spirituality groups (GEC) present in Balsas, organized the retreat in 2 different locations, to enable better participation.

On September 17, 2022 (Saturday), the first one was held in the city of Pastos Bons (280 km from Balsas), with the participation of about 25 persons. It was a very rich day of sharing and remembering the journey of the communities, and rekindling the commitment of faith, inspired by the Comboni charism.

On the following day (Sunday) the retreat was held in the city of Balsas, with the participation of more than 50 persons, with the assistance of the diocesan bishop in the reflection of the theme. He encouraged that the spirituality that we assume as Christians, regardless of what it is, should lead us, more than having faith in Jesus, to have the faith of Jesus. This makes the difference, since it prevents us from creating a logic that serves our personal interests and wills, keeping us in the logic of the Kingdom of God.

In both moments we had a video of Regimar and Valmir, sharing their first 5 months of presence in Mozambique and the challenges faced by the population with the Gombe Cyclone.

The GECs of Piquiá, Pastos Bons and Balsas shared about their meetings and invited those present to be part of the journey of deepening of faith and missionary commitment, as a concrete gesture of this retreat.

It was a rich moment of missionary animation, inspired by the charism of St. Daniel Comboni!

Did you like the idea of having a Comboni Spirituality Group (CSG) in your community or parish? Would you like to know how to organize one? Contact us through our email or by the WhatsApp of the Comboni Missionaries +551197956-8317.

CLM Brazil

Dear friends of the mission in Mozambique

LMC Mozambique

It has now been six months of our mission in Carapira, in the north of Mozambique. We would like to share with you about what our life looks like and what we do.

Our parish church, a would-be cathedral

On March 1, we reach our place of work, the mission of Carapira. Long ago, it was planned that this village would become the seat of a diocese, so a church of impressive size was built. In addition to the would-be cathedral, there is also the Institute of Industrial Technology, founded by Combonians that attracts students from places located up to 150 km away with its reputation. Our responsibilities are divided between work in the institute (we are involved in the boarding school, secretariat, production, administration, agricultural part, library and computer room) and in the parish (we are members of the council for children and youth, vocations, education, Caritas and fraternal assistance and justice and peace). In addition, we prepare formation meetings for people from Mozambique who would like to become lay missionaries, we prepare adoration or sharing with the Word of God, we travel to distant communities (in our parish there are as many as 93 of Christian’s communities, sometimes traveling one way takes several hours, and the Mass, it is only celebrated once a year) and we have our household responsibilities. There is a lot to do and this is very good! The more responsibilities, the less time wasted, and the rest becomes a real respite.

As I mentioned, we experience a variety of problems. It was only a few weeks ago that the long-promised construction of a house for our community began. Until then, we live in the home of the Combonian missionaries. It also turned out that the repair of the car, used so far by our lay missionaries community, is completely unprofitable. This means that until we have the money to buy a new vehicle, the freedom of our work will be significantly limited.

During a visit to one of the communities

We also had health problems. In total, in our community, we have already caught malaria nine times. Three days after arriving in Carapira, I fell ill for the first time. I felt very weak, so I went to the local clinic to get a quick test that confirmed my illness. Apart from the alternating waves of chills and fever, I had no symptoms. I was sweating very intensely, and the mattress on which I slept looked like someone had spilled a bucket of water on it. After three days of taking medications, you recover, but your body is weakened, and you should spare yourself for the next few days. This disease was inevitable. The region we live has a lot of cases of malaria. The previous Polish lay missionary, Kasia, was sick here fifteen times in two years.

Ilha de Moçambique – the former capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site

From 10 to 11 March, the province of Nampula, where we live, was struck by the powerful cyclone Gombe, which killed at least 61 people and completely destroyed 45,079 houses. The relatively low death toll is the result of previous meteorological warnings. In simple houses, mostly built of clay and wood, no one slept that night, anxiously waiting for the cyclone to come. From 9 p.m. there was no electricity and one could feel a strong wind, which grew stronger at two in the morning. It was in complete darkness that trees and roofs broke, walls crumbled and people looked for shelter in terror. In Carapira, only a few of the most solid buildings have survived. Meteorologists noted that the wind force was 190 km/h and that heavy rain fell, corresponding to a 20 cm layer of water. Water penetrated through the cracks in the doors, windows and the ceiling also into our rooms.

The houses were completely ruined

Although we were observing the power of the element, we were not aware of the extent of the destruction for a long time and the morning proceeded peacefully. Suddenly Father Jaider, clearly shaken, came running, saying, “Many buildings are in ruins. There are lots of women with young children near the church. They are shaking with cold. They need dry clothes. We have to help them! We have to find shelter for them, they cannot enter the church. ” These last words surprised me a lot. I understand that the church is a sacred space, but the situation is critical, why can’t they take refuge there?

There was no time to ask questions. We ran to our rooms to look for warm clothes. Jackets, sweatshirts, pants, T-shirts. We came to the mission with heavy suitcases, an opportunity came very quickly to share with the most needy. With meshes full of clothes, we ran to the temple. Drenched people chattering their teeth, little ones shaking with cold. I looked inside. Water poured from holes in the ceiling, and stone parts of the ceiling fell. Now I understood why these people could not hide in the church building …

We separated the women and young children and ran with them to the nearby buildings of the former school. There was water in all the rooms, but at least one of them didn’t rain. We handed out clothes, mothers wrapped children in our jackets, sweatshirts, jackets … All the time we could hear the terrifying sound of bent sheet metal, which the element was still trying to break. This school has become a temporary shelter for the most disadvantaged. With considerable effort and at a cost, the roof in the remaining rooms was repaired. We brought mats that you could sleep on. We managed to organize two hot meals a day. We distributed roof repair foil, flour and beans to those most in need.

The cyclone washed away the bridges and cut off many towns

Many trees and an old, six-meter-long cactus fell down around the church. A group of teenage boys volunteered to help with tidying up the area. All the hot day they worked very hard with axes and machetes, carrying heavy branches and even cutting their hands. Their only payment was a cup of water with lemon juice and two cookies.

Five months have passed since the cyclone passed by the time you read this article. We are organizing a second wave of aid. We collected over 2,300 euros on the crowfounding portal. Together with people involved in the parish Council of Caritas and Brotherly Aid, we selected the most needy. It was not an easy task, as the local population is mostly very poor. We wanted to select people who are completely incapable of work and who cannot help themselves. We visited paralyzed, rheumatic, handicapped people, people with twisted limbs, undiagnosed diseases, amputees … They were very grateful for the few kilos of beans or cornmeal, for a blanket or mosquito-net, possibly some thin sheet metal to repair a broken roof. For those who can speak, we asked for a recording of thanks. They addressed people living somewhere in the unknown land of “Poland”, using hard-to-pronounce Polish names: “Piotr”, “Konrad”, “Mariusz”, “Pawel”, “Urszula”, “Wiesławie”, “Agnieszka”: ” thank you for your help ”.

Ladies Laurinda and Filomena with the help received

People here live off of what will grow in small fields. Some cassava, some beans, some corn. This is enough for a poor diet. Meat or fish is a luxury. They work very hard, in heat and with simple tools, engaging even several-year-old children to help support their family. Your only chance to earn money is to sell some of your crops when the field is well fertile. Then they wander with 50 kg bags on their heads for many hours to the nearest market. In our village, a five-year-old boy swallowed a coin and an operation was required. His parents had to sell their piglets in order to get money for a trip to the city and bribes for doctors. Simple flip-flops or a used shirt at the market cost less than 1 EUR. Despite this, not everyone can afford such “excess”. Those who cannot afford it wear torn and worn clothes, sometimes barefoot.

We also supplied a metal sheet for the construction of houses

Poverty, unimaginable for Europeans, and the lack of prospects do not break the Mozambicans. In the evenings they play music, humbly accept the hard life in all its fullness, react with undisguised joy when we greet them in the local macua language. It is worth remembering that another generation of our great-grandparents was in a similar situation. Various novels from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries described similar poverty, the constant risk of hunger, illiteracy, superstition, difficult access to health care, and dependence on small plots. Today let us be grateful that our houses and flats have not collapsed, that we are not faced with hunger, that we can read and write, that we can heal our loved ones for free. May this gratitude always result in solidarity towards our hard-pressed sisters and brothers.

Regimar, Valmir and Bartek with kind regards