07 Dec Francisco Momade
So many of these #StoriesofLoveComing could also be #StoriesofEnduringSacrifice. It’s hard not to read these incredible stories and think quite simply, “we have no idea of the lives of so many…..”
This story begins with this photo of Francisco Momade at work in a health centre in Cobue where the Lago Community Health Project, part of the Anglican Diocese of Niassa, trains local volunteers who provide basic preventive and curative health care to the 20,000 people living along 140 kms of the shore of Lake Niassa and deep into the neighbouring mountains. The mother, Alicia and her 3 year-old child, Argentina, live in a small village about an hour’s walk south of the training centre. The day before the picture was taken Argentina started to cough, became feverish, stopped playing and refused to eat. Alicia came to the centre the following morning seeking help. When Francisco, a health worker, examined Argentina he found that, as well as the cough and high temperature she had very fast breathing, suggestive of pneumonia. He did a rapid test for falciparum malaria, which gave a positive result, so he treated the child with both ammoxycilin for pneumonia and Coartem for the malaria, as well as paracetamol to reduce the fever. Argentina recovered rapidly and has remained well since.
Francisco is an exceptionally dedicated health worker whose actions have played a major role in the 60% drop in child mortality that has been recorded since the project started in the area. He was born in a small community on the shores of Lake Niassa/Malawi about 8 hours walk from Cobue. During the Frelimo-Renamo war his family fled Mozambique for Malawi and he grew up as a refugee. Because of the conflict he never attended secondary school. He returned to Mozambique in his late teens, soon after the war ended. His village had been destroyed, he was desperately poor and he had his mother and sisters to support, his father having left the family while they were in Malawi. An older friend gave him the equivalent of about 40 pence to help him out. Rather than spending the money on food he bought a fishing hook and some line and caught a small quantity of fish. Half he gave to his family to eat while the rest he sold. Gradually he saved enough money to buy a net and canoes and began trading dried fish to distant inland communities, travelling large distances on foot or by bicycle. With some of the profits from this he bought a timber saw and set up a small, informal business employing local men to cut planks.
In 2005, the year the Lago Health project began, Francisco was among the people selected by their communities to be trained as a health volunteer. Participating in the trainings involved financial loss as he could no longer continue his business but he was eager to learn new skills and see his community develop. He founds the studies difficult initially and was slower to learn than many of the other participants, but struggled on, requesting more explanation and reading his notes over and over until he knew them well. After he qualified, the project recruited him as a member of the local health team. For the past four years he has done an amazing job, continuing to travel long distances on foot and by bicycle to provide on-going training and supervision to the 36 health volunteers who staff 8 community-run health posts and help out in 4 government health posts situated along 140 kms and deep into the neighbouring mountains.
From 2014-2016, Francisco led the first expansion of our community health work into a region in which we previously did not work and due to the success there, he has now moved to another province (Zambezia) to expand the work there.
What a story of persistence, commitment and love for his community. A true #StoriesofLoveComing.
We pray for Francisco and those health workers who, across the developing world, give up so much to help their communities. Teach us to support them constantly in whatever ways we can, to magnify your Light in these remote communities.
For ways to support MANNA and people like Francisco, click here.