It has been a long two weeks. Here are a few thoughts and reflections on our week at a refugee camp outside Nampula, Mozambique and our three days at the Kruger National Park in South Africa. On August 12th, I landed in Nampula. It is the largest commercial city of about two million people in the Northern Mozambique, not far from the Tanzanian border. It is also the home of the one and only UNHCR (United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees) sponsored refugee camp in Mozambique. It is a small camp, only 11,851 reside here compared to 50,000 plus in camps spread throughout East Africa and the Middle East.
I decided to make this trip because I promised a trip to my grandkids and our local church was working to resettle refugees in the Grand Rapids area. Many had come from this camp. Most of them are Congolese, some from Rwanda and Burundi.
It was a trip that almost did not happen. The first leg from Grand Rapids to Atlanta was uneventful. However, as we started the border process for the nonstop flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, I was called to the desk to provide birth certificates for Mikayla and Rebecca, 15 and 16 respectfully — a new policy that no one had informed us of until this day. We were told we could not board the aircraft.
After a few moments of panic, hurried phone calls, and quick negotiation, Delta decided they would allow us to board but we would have to stay in the Trait Hotel at Johannesburg Airport. This is all due to increased child trafficking and the South Africa government’s attempt to get a handle on some of these issues.
We were met at the gate at Nampula International Airport by a wild waving crowd of refugees who were expecting us. Over the next six days we sat through numerous celebrations, songs, dances, gift giving — staring into the eyes of hungry and scarcely clothed children. We distributed over 500 Bucket to Bucket filters from Business Connect benefiting well over 2,500 people with clean and safe water for the first time. My niece, Justine, and my two granddaughters, hugged, played, and fell in love with the kids.
It was a week of HOPE for people so desperate for hope. Many families we met had been in the camp for up to 12 and even 16 years. It is daunting to think that of the 18 million registered refugees in the world, less than one half of one percent will ever find a home again outside of a refugee camp.
Some of you reading this short reflection supplied the funds to provide these filters and know the story. We can not do a thing without partners and without resources to bring filters to our local partners on the ground. There is no international media to bring this to our attention and it is so far away. We can ignore it…if we dare. If you are touched by these words and want to donate supplies to the refugees, send a tax deductible gift to Partners Worldwide (Attention Business Connect) for Worldwide Clean and Safe Water, 6139 Tahoe, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Every $100 will provide clean and safe water for 20 people for two years and perhaps longer.