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Hanhane Women's Shelter

A place to call home

Twenty-four women that were rejected by their families live at the Hanhane Women's Shelter near Massinga in Mozambique. Their families allege that some are "witches" and have banished them from home. Others have been abandoned by their families because of their state of disability.

Hanhane Women’s Shelter Dedication
June 19, 2011

Thank you for taking your faith seriously – for caring for the widows in their distress. Thank you for making your contributions to the residences of the Hanhane Women’s Shelter project. On behalf of the women at Hanhane shelter in Mozambique, we are grateful for your caring. All three permanent houses were completed earlier this year and were dedicated by Bishop Nhanala on Sunday, June 19th!

In God there is always hope and joy
By Naftal Massela Naftal
Mozambique South Conference communications coordinator

This could be seen on June 21, 2011 during the dedication of the permanent houses at the Hanhane Women’s shelter.

The dedication was conducted by Bishop Joaquina Nhanala and the Massinga district administrator. They both highlighted the impact that the houses will bring in the lives of these women who one day were marginalized by their own family members accusing them of witchcraft. The three permanent houses comprise in each a living room, four bedrooms and a small verandah.

Smiles of joy and melodic singing, accompanied the short steps of the widows as the moved from one house to another following the leading crew as they cut the ribbons indicating the opening of the houses. No sound of any other kind could be heard besides the women’s vocal rhythm as at some points remembered their ability to sing from their younger ages.

The girls, as they are ironically called, resembled faces of people receiving heavenly gracious love whose hope had come to the end point. Like angels they rejoiced the coming of more comfortable accommodation facilities. That is more than a shelter, can be considered a real family household.

No word but a simple Thank You from the bottom of my heart
For Joaneta, the oldest woman in the center, this is God’s work. “We continue to see the hand of God operating miracles through His people who, although we are considered evil within the society, they still consider us human beings with right to live a decent life. All we can say is ‘thank you’ to the United Methodist Church and all who made this happen. We have no words, but to simply say THANK YOU VERY MUCH and may God continue to bless you all”, she said showing tears in her eyes.

Among those who attended the dedication, was the couple of the retired pastor Rev. Aleixandre and Mrs. Alminda Covele, the pioneers of the initiative from whom we could not resist to get few words to express their feelings that moment. They recall having had the idea of accommodating the widows in 1992 working together with the then district UMW president (absent at the moment). “Some people considered us to be crazy at that moment”- said Covele. “Today we are so delighted to see this initiative getting higher consideration and many hands sharing their charity for these creatures of God, we praise God for that” – preceded Covele showing an expression of joy.

Third house completed at Hanhane included modifications for elderly disabled women

The highest point of the dedication is when the widows were holding a plate of salt and kerosene lamps symbolizing the salt to the world and the light advocated by Jesus in the Gospel. In the other hand they held brooms showing the need to have the houses clean and well taken care of for these to last longer.

As the Bishop dedicated the house she acknowledged the partners who played a very important role through their monetary contribution for the houses to be built. Among those, to mention the St John’s United Methodist Church in Kansas City, MO, Webster Hills UMW, the Wesley United Methodist Church in Springfield, and others. In her sermon, read in the book of I Sam 12:21ff, Bishop Nhanala emphasized that God never forsakes His people. “He keeps an eye over His creation and is always ready to rescue those who are rejected” – said Bishop Nhanala.

All the messages that came from both the Church’s representative as well as the government representatives highlighted the role played by the United Methodist Church in its prophetical mission in the world and the high contribution of its partners in the field of social welfares. The center started with 12 women and now it has 24 women who share almost the same sad story of having been rejected by their own children and relatives accused of practicing ‘witchcraft’. Beside donations from the church through the women’s society, these aging women develop activities such as farming and raising livestock for their own survival.

I was hungry you gave me food, I was thirst and you gave me water, I was naked and you clothed me, I was cold and you gave me shelter… This is the message left to the community by all who stretched their hand for the benefit of these “poor widows”.

Contributions also funded curtains to provide some privacy for the women in their new quarters. And funds are currently on hand to add a dining/fellowship shelter.

At this point we would like to provide 24 sets of new linens and blankets for the women. If you would like to donate a set, send $25 payable to Missouri Conference marked “Mozambique – Hanhane Shelter blankets” to the treasurer’s office at 3601 Amron Court, Columbia, MO 65202.

Learn to do justice; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1: 17

All photos available in full resolution upon request.

Click here for story of October 2010 visit