United Methodists in Angola support flood survivors

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Key points:

 • Angola West Conference mobilizes to provide food and other relief as heavy rains destroy homes and other infrastructure.

 • More than 8,500 people were affected by the flooding and two people died.

 • Although some survivors have returned to their homes or are staying with relatives, others remain in shelters such as schools.

Residents of Dondo, a city of 65,000 in Angola, awakened on May 8 to flooding caused by heavy rains. The Capacala River had overflowed its banks, washing debris from the Cassessee community into Dondo.

Within days, a delegation from the Angola West Conference, led by the Rev. Vladmir Agostinho, visited the municipality of Cambambe in the Kuanza Norte province. Agostinho is project director for the conference.

The delegation also included lay leader Laurinda Neto, Department of Agriculture director António Sozinho and Kuanze Norte District superintendent the Rev. Neusa Ndalamba.

“There is a lot of work to be done here in this municipality,” said Laurinda Elisa, municipality director of social action, family and gender equality. “So far, 1,700 families have been registered and are receiving support, out of a total of 8,590 people affected.” Two people died in the disaster.

“Dear brothers and sisters, we came here today because we heard the cry of God’s people from Cassesse because of what has shaken you,” Ndalamba said.

Agostinho said after hearing what happened, the church began to mobilize to meet some of the community’s needs. “We brought 700 basic food baskets, bale balloons (bundles of second-hand cloth), and some biosafety and hygiene kits,” he said.

The rain that poured on the city of Dondo destroyed many homes. Flooding also washed away church records and damaged furniture at Israel United Methodist Church.

Maria Oliveira, a survivor of the disaster, said, “Many families lost all their possessions and saw their homes destroyed by the fury of the waters. Many families are still living the nightmare.”

Dondo residents appealed to the government for greater speed in the distribution of land in safe areas for construction of new homes.

“We didn't think it would be like that,” said Francisca André. “What we thought was that it would be rain like any other, that it would not leave any traces of disgrace, that it would not put families in poverty here in our community.”

The Rev. Faustino Congo, a retired United Methodist pastor, agreed.

“Imagine working for a lifetime and with your salary you equip your house, and in less than 24 hours see everything taken away with the rainwater. Although the rain is a blessing, for us this time it brought sadness.”

Ndalamba assured survivors that that was only the first of several support caravans.

“I know what it’s like to lose almost everything we've built in life because I've lived through sad moments, but beloved, let's be strong. God has not abandoned us,” she said.

Although some survivors have returned to their homes or are staying with relatives, others remain in shelters such as schools, because they have nowhere else to go. The rain also destroyed several public and private buildings and left the city of Dondo deprived of electricity, drinking water and communications.

Orlando da Cruz is the communicator for the Angola West Conference of United Methodist News. Sambo is Africa Lusophone correspondent of UM News. News media contact: The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez, [email protected]

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