By FATHER ALEX TIGGA, M.S.F.S.
The Republic of Mozambique, nearly twice the size of California, is located in southeastern Africa, bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the north, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest.
After almost 500 years of colonial rule, Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975 but that independence was quickly marred by social mismanagement and a brutal civil war that lasted from 1977 until 1992. Although macroeconomic reforms undertaken by the government have helped stabilize the economy, Mozambique still depends upon foreign assistance for most of its budget and the majority of the population continues to remain in poverty.
Among the greatest challenges facing the country are food insecurity and the HIV/AIDS crisis. More than 40 percent of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. Children in Mozambique are also highly susceptible to malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and other vaccine-preventable diseases. More than 60 percent of the country does not have access to basic health services; and close to 60 percent does not have access to safe water.
The population of Mozambique is around 22 million and about 56 percent is Christian (Catholic 23.8 percent), followed by Islam (17.9 percent), and other beliefs (mainly animism 7.3 percent). The remaining 18.7 percent of the population has no religious affiliations.
Though I am in the U.S., I continue to be connected with our Mission in Mozambique. We Fransalians have served in Mozambique since January 2000. When I look back on the years, it has been a wonderful experience for me.
The Mission in Mozambique is very tough and hard. During my stay I had 10 malaria attacks, one attack by robbers at night who literally hammered us with a hammer, and a chase by a herd of elephants in a deep forest.
I still miss life in Africa which was very simple, natural and social. These years of experiences have really enriched me and broadened my mind and vision.