In Mozambique, Catholic radio brings hope to faithful living in fear of terrorism
FOR SOME YEARS NOW, the province of Cabo Delgado, in the far north of Mozambique, has been suffering greatly from a wave of terrorist violence that has created a climate of war and uprooted more than 700,000 people. News of burned out villages and barbarous has become commonplace in this region.
In such a situation even the daily business of living is a major challenge, and evangelization a still greater one. Ever since the beginning of the wave of violence in 2017, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has intensified its support for the Church here in the north of Mozambique. Recently, and thanks to the support of ACN, the Diocese of Pemba has launched an evangelization outreach program, “Evangelization in a time of crisis.” It is an initiative which aims to continue the Church’s mission in the current situation by what is currently the best means of communication in the region—radio.
Already before the crisis, access to the remotest villages and settlements was difficult, owing to lack of resources and the appalling state of the roads, which are often impassable during the rainy season. Today, the armed conflict and the coronavirus pandemic have made everything more difficult and dangerous. In these circumstances, radio is the one means that still offers the possibility of maintaining contact with people isolated by the war, the pandemic, the lack of resources and inaccessibility. Radio bring them comfort and consolation for their souls, through catechesis, spiritual formation and the possibility of still participating in the celebration of Mass—as well as the soothing sound of Christian music.
One of the Catholic radio stations in the region, Rádio São Francisco, was destroyed by the terrorists, so now the other Catholic radio station, Rádio Sem Fronteiras, has become crucial to the program and has extended its coverage. Thanks to the help of ACN, it has also been possible to produce new programs and at the same time rent airtime on other local radio stations to further extend its range. ACN has not simply been helping to fund the broadcasts, but it also has improved signal reception.
However, the situation in northern Mozambique is so bad that many communities don’t even have a transistor radio, or even electricity. And so, in addition, ACN has funded the purchase small solar-powered radios to serve these remote and isolated communities. Each radio has been entrusted to the care of a community leader who makes sure that as many people as possible tune in to have access to what for them may well be the only and certainly the most powerful source of hope in these times of war and the pandemic—the Gospel.
Father Latifo Fonseca, the director of Rádio Sem Fronteiras, expressed his gratitude to the donors of ACN: “Please accept my special blessing on each one of you, for each day you are facilitating the mission of Jesus in places where there is great suffering.” And so, where once a wave of violence overwhelmed them, the airwaves are now bringing the people fresh strength, sowing peace, and hope in a time of great fear and anxiety.