|Elderly Mozambique women robbed of blankets, food |
Elderly women find a home at Hanhane Women's Shelter, a
United Methodist-supported ministry in rural Mozambique. UMNS file
photos by Mike DuBose.
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
March 3, 2008
A thief stole 32 blankets and most of the food from 42 elderly women
who live in reed and thatch huts at the United Methodist-supported
Hanhane Women’s Shelter in rural Mozambique.
"The houses they live in have no security," said Rosália Mauricio
Queface, administrative secretary for the United Methodist Women's
Society in Mozambique. "Many are alone. Many have disabilities. They
were threatened and were afraid to ask for help."
The theft was reported in a church publication in February and points to
the need for secure, permanent housing for the women, according to the
Known as "witch daughters," these women are driven from their homes and
into the shelter because their families accused them of witchcraft.
"Life for them is not easy due to the many difficulties that they face
such as hunger, lack of substantial permanent houses of conventional
material, and hygiene products which mean suffering from epidemic
diseases," Queface said.
Women who come to the shelter have been driven from their homes by families who accused them of witchcraft.
The shelter was established in 1982 near the town of Massinga, and the
women are cared for by the United Methodist Women’s Society of
Mozambique. "It is such a shame to see elderly women wandering around
the streets," said Judite Gemo, a member of the society.
Catherine Mudime Akale, a regional missionary with the United Methodist
Board of Global Ministries, visited the shelter in 2003 and wrote in her
report: "These are women who were accused of witchcraft, dispossessed
of their property (cattle, houses, coconuts, farms) and disowned by
their own biological children or other close relatives and exiled from
their homes and communities after their husbands died."
The theft was reported in the Mozambique Initiative News published by
the United Methodist Missouri Annual (regional) Conference. The
Missouri conference has a partnership with the churches in Mozambique
and immediately sent $1,000 to purchase more food and blankets, Queface
The Women's Society wants to build permanent housing to protect the
women from theft and to reduce the spread of diseases. Many of the women
have asthma and arthritis and no access to medical care or drugs.
A new center would include dormitories that can house four women in each
building. "This center will cost approximately $20,000, and we have a
portion of that on hand," Queface said.
“...We are Christ’s presence to these women who suffer from aging, ailments and poverty.”–Rosália Mauricio Queface
She called on the church to respond to a great need.
"In Psalm 71:9, an aged worshiper prays for deliverance and laments, 'Do
not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my
strength is spent.' My friends, we are Christ’s presence to these women
who suffer from aging, ailments and poverty," Queface said. "We are the
church. May we hear their cry."
To contribute through The Mozambique Initiative, write check payable to
"Missouri Conference UMC," marked "Mozambique–Hanhane Women’s Shelter."
Mail to Missouri Conference, 3601 Amron Court, Columbia, MO 65202.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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