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The Rubbish Dump Ministry of Maputo

[Source - Fr. Juliao Mutemba November 2012]

They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity (2 Corinthians 8:2)

In 2011 MANNA gave £1200 for the Ministry on the rubbish dump in Maputo. Here is a report from Father Juliao and some of his reflections:

The money which was sent enabled us to assist more than 300 children with school material, six homeless people living on the dump with some food for Christmas period including the New year’s party, and food given in different occasions, three boys have been supported by the church in meeting all the requirements for obtaining the birth registration of adult people, which is a complex process.

Manuel Chongo

Mr. Manuel Chongo, who used to stay with Mr. Vanquina (who died in the past), has now joined other friends who live on the dump. He, together with his friend Justino Banze have been supported by pastors from the Iris Ministry who rented for them a house at the back of the dump, but they continue to spend much time on the dump, justifying that, when they stay in the rented room they starve, they have no food, no charcoal for making fire, while on the dump they collect and eat the rotten food which is brought by trucks. On the dump there is always fire to warm up, and heat the food they collect in a tin.

temporary house

We recently went to the dump when it was cold and raining, and our people were cold. Nothing else we could do than to come back and pick up some of our T-shirts and trousers sending them to the dump. Gutierrez defines “poverty as a commitment to be assumed by all Christians which expresses itself in solidarity with the poor and in protest against poverty”(Gutierrez 1999:26)*. According to this statement, if we assume that we are not rich when other people are extremely in need, then we will commit ourselves to a struggle for a better world, where the poor can also have a space to teach what he or she knows and to receive what they deserve as human beings. Reflecting on Mr. Manuel, it reminds me of the Israelites spending many years wondering in the desert, as part of their pilgrimage to the promised land. This temporary house reminds me of my body which is a tent I live, and it will be torn down , but God will have another house in heaven for me to live in. (2 Corinthians 5:2).

Giving T-shirts

The fire we see on the dump God is providing for those who have no blankets, those who have no stoves so to find ways of surviving.
We understand that we may not keep on giving food or clothes, that is why, among the three, at least two have been registered, and will look after themselves, and take care of their family members. “If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10). This gesture of the church is an indication that our eyes are not shut so that we cannot see the needs of others, and an acknowledgement that when we to this, we do it unto the Lord. Most of these T-Shirts are from the seminars and workshops where we normal meet to debate about the poor, and we are given for free, though we may not have any need for the clothes, so, it is like returning them to those who deserve.

Giving gifts

But God is so good. In order to have this ministry going, someone had to sacrifice his life, time and sometimes resources. Osorio Banze, and Anglican youth and member of St. John the Evangelist, spent more than a year serving me in the ministry, as I continued to be engaged with the tasks of the church and of the Christian Council of Mozambique. He followed up the issues of birth registration, direct assistance of the homeless, and the school children, and assisted me in the Christian Council of Mozambique without earning a single cent. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.1 Peter 1:13”

About the birth registration

It had been a concern for the church that most of the children under the school age, when they come for baptism it is discovered that they have not been registered, and from that end, parents are sensitized to take them to a registration office in order to get a birth certificate. In the bible it was predicted that, “The Lord will write a list of the peoples and include them all as citizens of Jerusalem” (Psalm 87:6). As I have said in the past, people grow from children to adults living out of the dump, boys and girls having the dump as their meeting place, where they work, play and fall in love, resulting on having children born of unregistered parents. Living without a birth registration means that even if they can begin the first school grades, they will stop somewhere because they cannot write examination without the documents, cannot access to work, to basic services such as electricity, water, SIM card registration, and it is as if people are denied any aspect of development. We as the church, filled with the spirit of the Lord, feel the pain of seeing our fellow human beings not having any right yet, because they are not yet citizens, but strangers in their own land. In that case, the church uses God’s anointment to proclaim the freedom and the year of the Lord’s favour (Luke 4:18-19).

Lastly, in this article I present below pictures showing some of the children who received the school books, and this distribution we did across the road, the the Renascer centre, where we invited children from the dump to come and receive material, after registering their names and the schools where they attend. The team this day, was led by our church warden from St. Barnabas Parish.

Children receiving books
Children receiving books

* Gutierrez, G. 1999. The task and content of liberation theology. In the Cambridge Companion to Liberation Theology. Cambridge University Press.