Project Compassion 2022: Anatercia’s story

7 March 2022


For each of the six weeks of Lent, the Diocese of Parramatta is sharing one of Caritas Australia’s feature stories of lives changed through support and empowerment programs.

First Sunday of Lent – 6 March 2022

Anatercia, Mozambique


Anatercia, a 12-year-old living in a village in southern Mozambique, was struggling to cope with the burden of adult responsibilities. After her father passed away, her mother developed chronic health issues. Anatercia bore the brunt of household chores and had to travel for hours every day to collect water to help her grandparents. Water scarcity also meant that harvests were poor and there was never enough to eat.

Caritas Regional Chokwe, supported by Caritas Australia, helped Anatercia’s family to irrigate their farm, while also improving water access for households in the village. Her grandmother participated in agricultural training, while the local health committee helped Anatercia to access psychosocial support.

Now, Anatercia can easily access clean drinking water, families are able to grow crops all year round and there is enough to eat. Anatercia is better supported by her community, has more time to study, and hopes to fulfil her dream of becoming a nurse.

Anatercia lives with her brother, two cousins, mother and elderly grandparents in a small hut in a rural village in the Gaza Province, in southern Mozambique. Like many rural communities, her village has no electricity, hospital, secondary school or supermarket.

Anatercia’s father died when she was four and her mother has struggled with chronic health issues ever since. As her grandparents aged, her grandfather developed blindness and her grandmother could no longer walk to their farm.

Their crops, including corn, beans, sweet potato and cassava, withered from a mixture of neglect, irregular rainfall, and both droughts and floods. Mozambique’s long coastline, sprawling river delta, environmental changes and variable climate make it particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.

As harvests were often poor, they were unable to sell food to earn an income and the family often went hungry.

In Mozambique, nearly two million people currently face severe food insecurity, due to the combined effects of frequent natural disasters, the conflict in northern Mozambique and COVID-19. [1]

As Anatercia took on more and more responsibilities around the home to try to support her struggling grandparents, her education began to suffer, as she travelled up to five hours to collect water every day.

“We have run out of food several times,”… “I help my family with the farm, cooking, fetching water and firewood, and caring for my mother,” Anatercia says. “I also assist my grandfather in feeding, as he has difficulty in picking up utensils due to blindness.”

In 2017, Anatercia’s family joined the Integrated Rural Development Program, run by Caritas Australia’s local partner, Caritas Regional Chokwe. The program provided initial support to the family through food baskets, seeds, school supplies and a school uniform for Anatercia.

With your generous support, Caritas then helped the family to install a gravity irrigation system on their farm, as well as a system of water taps in the village. Anatercia’s grandmother participated in training in sustainable farming techniques to help the family to produce enough food to eat and to sell.

Caritas Regional Chokwe also successfully lobbied the government to extend the school to 6th grade, so that children Anatercia’s age can continue to study close to home, rather than walking hours to a neighbouring school.

Finally, with Caritas’ support, the community was able to form health committees to raise awareness about COVID-19, HIV and AIDS, as well as providing psychosocial support for vulnerable people, like Anatercia.

“After completing the program, we managed to have food from our irrigated farm, even without rain,” Anatercia says. “I have enough time to take care of my mother because I have water close to the house, I am studying here in the community, and the farm gives us food all year round,” Anatercia says.

Caritas Regional Chokwe’s, Program Co-ordinator, Cacilda Tam San, says Anatercia’s resilience is inspirational for her community. “Anatercia has demonstrated maturity beyond her years, by zealously carrying out difficult tasks that under normal conditions are performed by adults. We’re now helping her family with community counselling and most importantly, she can complete her studies as well.”

Over 5,600 people in the region have directly benefitted from this program so far, including:

  • Over 4,800 people with improved access to clean drinking water
  • 200 people trained in sustainable agriculture and irrigation practices
  • 180 children across four communities are able to continue their education

Over 24,000 people have benefitted indirectly, due to the extension of water pipes throughout the community.

Although the nearest secondary school is 10 kilometres away, and affording school materials remains a challenge, Anatercia is keen to continue her studies. She dreams of becoming a nurse to help people like her mother, so that community members don’t have to walk long distances for medical care.

Thanks to your generous support, Anatercia’s health, education and quality of life have improved, along with the outlook of her community for future generations.

“Thank you, Caritas Australia,” Anatercia says. “Thank you, Project Compassion.”

You can help to improve the lives of children like Anatercia by making a donation through Project Compassion boxes and envelopes, visiting or phoning 1800 024 413.

With thanks to Caritas Australia.


[1] ReliefWeb


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