It used to be known for land mines and conflict. Now peace has come at last to Angola and Tearfund partners are working to help rebuild lives for the thousands returning home.
If you’ve ever come home after being away for a long time, you’ll know how good it feels to be back where you belong.
So imagine what it’s like to be cast out of your homeland by something as dreadful as war, and not just for weeks or months but for almost a lifetime.
Lando Antonio was born in Angola, but was forced to live as a refugee in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for thirty years, fleeing the brutal civil war that ravaged her home country for decades. She must have come close many times to giving up hope of ever returning. But, as the war finally ended in 2009, Lando and her family were able to come home. Angola was at last a country of peace and stability where they could see a future for themselves.
Even so, returning was just the first step on a long journey to rebuilding a life for her, her husband and three children.
‘We are in our own country and we want to change our lives for the better.’Lando Antonio, Angola
Getting re-established was as struggle. They had nothing and had to start again from scratch – looking for housing, food for the table and schooling for the children. She says of her situation, 'It is better to be home in my own country but life has been tougher for us here.'
Thankfully she wasn’t alone. Tearfund partner The Reformed Evangelical Church in Angola (IERA) are dedicated to serving families just like Lando’s – Angolan migrants who've returned from the DRC. They're supporting them to resettle and reintegrate into host communities. They’re building houses and schools, conducting health, hygiene and leadership training. They’re helping a country to heal after decades of conflict.
As the whole of Angola looks forward to a time of peace, Lando now feels optimistic about the future, ‘We are in our own country and we want to change our lives for the better.’
Now Lando is having a house built, after years of paying rent that she couldn’t afford. It’s a joint effort – her family are sourcing local materials and labour and IERA are providing cement, wood and roofing materials. Soon her family will have a home they can finally call their own, in the country of their birth.
‘We are thankful to God and to the church. Otherwise, on our own we could never have bought the materials to have a house of our own.’ Lando Antonio, Angola
The project is aiming to help 2,400 returnee families like Lando’s over the next three years to get back on their feet – providing them with housing, access to farmland and seeds for crops, as well as giving them water filters to make sure they have clean water.
But the first activity is building their house. Lando is pleased: ‘We are thankful to God and to the church. Otherwise, on our own we could never have bought the materials to have a house of our own.’
A little history...
Tearfund has been working in Angola for more than 20 years and currently works with six partners. Here is a selection of their work:
The Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola (IECA) runs a range of projects in community development, human rights, literacy and care for people living with HIV. Tearfund supports its projects department DASEP with a church mobilisation programme which trains local church leaders to engage effectively with their local community to address and resolve local issues.
The Reformed Evangelical Church in Angola (IERA) is serving Angolan migrants who've returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo, supporting them to resettle and reintegrate into host communities in Uíge Province, through house construction for the most vulnerable, school construction, health, hygiene and leadership training.
The theological college ISTEL trains pastoral workers from across the evangelical spectrum to combat ignorance about HIV and promote hope, acceptance, respect, inclusion and self-esteem.
UIEA, a denomination in southern Angola, is awakening churches in Huila Province to take ownership of the HIV response through a change of attitudes towards HIV and those affected by it, and a change in behaviour, and personal and collective responsibility in responding to the pandemic.
Through training and publications, Rede Esperança (Hope Network) is empowering church leaders to serve communities affected by HIV.
GBECA, an evangelical student organisation, is targeting a reduction of HIV in Huila, Namibe and Cunene provinces and overcoming taboos in schools and churches through open discussion of HIV, sex and sexuality, and encouraging young people to make ‘good choices’ in their attitudes and behaviour.
Tearfund partners are working all over the world to help people in desperate need find a way out of poverty. We're determined to follow Jesus to the places of greatest need. Support our work today.