Loving people at the Boccaria (Maputo rubbish dump)

Written by Heather Bohler

The Maputo Rubbish dump– the only official dump for Maputo’s 3.5 million people – is located in a densely populated neighbourhood covering around 17 hectares and as many of you know has been very close to the heart of Iris Ministries for many years. Over the years the Boccaria has seen miracles of food multiplication, healing miracles, salvations, transformed lives, signs & wonders, and the love of Jesus. The logistics and practicalities and personnel might have changed since Heidi Baker first started to love the people of the Hulene community, but the one thing that remains the same is that Jesus’ love is shared and presence felt there. The ministry visits the Hulene community each Friday, under the leadership of Pastor Sergio, a typical week will have us start with a time of prayer, and worship in the church at the base of the dump, and then split into 3 teams. One team stays and does a “Sunday school” programme followed by bread distribution with children of the area-some weeks having over 200 children in attendance, one team hikes to the top of the rubbish dump which is close to 15m (49ft) high and shares Jesus with those they meet and prays with the adults who are sorting through the rubbish to collect things for recycling, and the last group goes to pray with families who live in the houses that surround the dump. In recent months the team has had it on their hearts to spend time doing prayer walks, praying for the area itself, and all who live and work there. In light of recent events I can’t help but think this prompting to pray for the area was God hand at work, seeing the bigger picture. The people there are the poorest of the urban poor but many of them display such Joy and faith in the Lord, a faith and courage that was so evident this week in midst of tragedy.

Maputo has experienced a lot of rain during the early part of 2018 and on Monday,19 February, just after 3 a.m., the mountain of rubbish gave way under the weight of water that had collected during the recent rains. A rubbish slide (similar to a mudslide on a mountain of sand) took place just 10 m from the church building, sadly destroying 7 houses and killing 21 people including a 2 year old child. Iris Ministries immediately responded and on Tuesday sent a team to go evaluate the damage at the rubbish dump, and assess the needs of the 80 families who had been evacuated from the area to a nearby evacuation camp. They have been evacuated due to fears of another slide happening, and their houses being flooded. While there we sat with people as they mourned, prayed for them and simply loved on them, letting them know we are there for them, Jesus is with them in their time of sorrow.

On Friday 23 a team once again went back to the evacuation camp, this time with two trucks filled with supplies of rice, beans, sugar, salt and other food, charcoal, wood, boxes of clothes, toys and enough personal hygiene supplies (toothbrush/paste soap etc.) for each person at the camp. (thank you to all who donated towards the course and made this possible) We delivered the goods to officials at the camp and then spent more time with the woman and children there praying and playing with them...The following Friday we went to a second evacuation camp and delivered a similar truck load of donations, to ensure that the people there do not go hungry.

In the weeks that followed the government evacuated the entire surrounding community, and shut down the entire area. They have decided that it is not good to have houses, a suburb and a community living so close to the city’s dump and after evacuation, they demolished all the houses, and buildings (including the chuch Iris had) surrounding the dump. As a result they have had to opened up another 2 camps for people to stay at, while people wait for the government to allocate land and rebuild houses in another area for them. Iris will be visiting these new camps and loving on the people who are there as well and helping anyway we can. As time goes on Iris will continue to love on the people affected. Please be praying for these precious people, pray that they may experience the nearness of God in this season, we trust that God is using all things for their good.

”If you would like to help financially, you can via the IRIS Global “Give” page on the website. designate the funds for the Maputo Base - landslide damage assistance. Thank you for your love and prayers