April 2019 Don Kantel Update
There have been many recent changes in Mozambique which have impacted Iris in several significant ways. I (Don) recall a conversation I had several years ago with the man responsible for regulating Mozambique's 320 NGOs. He said it was his expectation that all NGOs would be redundant in five years' time as the country was becoming increasingly able to stand on its own feet economically.
Indeed the country is much better off than it was 10 years ago. But the sad (if not surprising) reality is that the new wealth has not noticeably improved the lot of the majority of poor Mozambicans. In fact, because of rising costs for all basics, 80% of the population is statistically worse off today than five years ago. But the government declares it is winning the war against poverty, so NGOs aren't needed anymore.
As a consequence, visas have been denied to Iris Mission School students for the past two years. And visas have become increasingly difficult for missionaries to obtain or renew. Iris bases are short-staffed and programs are having to be curtailed. In the past, our Iris bases have welcomed hundreds of visitors from all over the world. But visits have been so severely curtailed and visas so difficult and expensive to obtain that Hospitality in Pemba has only received four visitors so far in 2019.
Thankfully, the work which Elizabeth and I pioneered in Mieze and Noviane is continuing to do very well. The two centres were set up as African bases and have never been missionary-dependent for staffing or direction. I provide the all-important accountability, monitor standards, and communicate with our prayer partners and donor base on behalf of the children and families we serve. And, although we still have a few very young children in our Mieze Centre, the majority of the children we're supporting are now in secondary school, vocational programs, and university. It's amazing--miraculous, really--to be able to report this, considering where we started 13 years ago. And these children and young people--all of whom know the Lord--are truly the hope of this nation for the future!
Thank you for partnering with us in this ministry. Your prayers and your support are continuing to make all the difference!
[Don in his favourite setting!]