Urgent appeal launched for Africa

Published May 1, 2000

World Vision’s Dave Toycen met with Bishop Dinis Sengulane.

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund has launched an urgent appeal to Canadians to help African countries hit by drought, conflict and flooding.

More than 16 million people in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Mozambique, face the threat of famine, the Primate’s Fund warns. It has sent over $85,000 so far to deal with the famine and the flooding in Mozambique which left more than a million people homeless.

Funds raised will be used for emergency relief of food, water, health care and shelter, reconstruction and rehabilitation, peace and reconciliation. The Primate’s Fund is also putting together an information/action kit. It suggests Canadians appeal to the federal government to play a more active role in searching for peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia and that they continue the call for debt forgiveness for the world’s poorest countries.

Meanwhile, the head of World Vision Canada says aid to Mozambique is getting through and its many homeless people remain hopeful. Dave Toycen visited Mozambique in March after the country was hit by a cyclone and severe flooding. “Most of the people I talked to either lost their homes or their homes were heavily damaged,” he said. “They were on the edge of survival to start with.”

Mr. Toycen, an Anglican, met with Bishop Dinis Sengulane while he was there. The bishop told him churches in other parts of the country were collecting and sending clothing to those most affected by the flooding.

Mr. Toycen said the bishop told him, “It’s been a very difficult time but it’s not been hair-raising. It’s been faith-raising,” as people continue to have dignity and hope. Many church buildings were destroyed and existing ones were being used as warehouses.

It’s hoped the rain in Mozambique will stop and the people can plant a vegetable crop. Still, food aid will be needed for the next nine months to a year, Mr. Toycen said. Malaria is running rampant and eventually consideration will have to be given to moving people who were living too close to the river to higher ground.

The assistance given by Canadians and others in the form of tents, survival kits, emergency foods and supplies is getting through, he said. “I was truly amazed by the resilience of the people,” Mr. Toycen said. “Their experience was one that, in spite of the loss of life, still had meaning. They had strong hope for the future. It seemed very clear that these people were very eager to get back to their gardens and get back to their lives again.”

Mozambique’s economy had been growing rapidly in the last few years after a long civil war had ended but the flooding destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure.

“The good news in all of this is that even though they’ve lost a tremendous amount of infrastructure, they haven’t lost the experiences and the skills people have generated over the past three to four years,” he said. “It’s just a question of getting the resources to start over again.”

Relief cheques can be sent to the Primate’s Fund at 600 Jarvis St., Toronto, ON M4Y 2J6, marked African Famine and Mozambique Floods. Or contact Barb Wilkins at 416-924-9199, ext. 320 for credit card donations. For updates, call the Primate’s Fund emergency hotline at 416-924-9199, ext. 806.


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