By Pedro Rodrigues
The Portuguese American Center in Farmingville and the New York Portuguese American Leadership Conference are running a campaign until April 30 to collect food, baby formula, clothing, blankets and other necessities to help the victims affected by Cyclone Idai which hit the mainland of Mozambique on March 15th.
All the goods collected by “Together Mozambique” will be shipped the first week of May. A GoFundMe page is set-up to help the victims. So far, $1,105 has been raised to buy additional products for those in need.
“We have been informed that since the port of Beira has been destroyed, the other part is working relatively slow because it cannot accommodate all the response,” Isabelle Coelho-Marques, the President of NYPALC, said. “At this moment we are waiting on a date.”
The New York Portuguese American Leadership Conference (NYPALC), a nonprofit organization with 67 members representing 180,000 Portuguese and Portuguese Americans in New York State, launched the campaign in New York behind the support of 13 Portuguese American centers and the Consulate General of Portugal.
The Portuguese American Center of Suffolk is one of the 13 centers opening its doors to help with the effort to collect goods such as food, baby formula, clothing and blankets. The local Portuguese school and folk dance group the “Rancho” are also joining the efforts.
“All Portuguese clubs are opening their doors for whoever wants to bring in goods,” Maria Rodrigues, president of the Portuguese American Center of Farmingville, said. “NYPALC will collect and ship them in a container as we wait and see if Washington will pay for another container.”
Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony that gained independence in 1975, has strong ties to Farmingville’s Portuguese community.
“With what happened there at this time with the connections with most of us have, with myself included because I was born in Mozambique, we decided as a board this was something we really wanted to be involved in,” Benvinda Santos, the representative for Suffolk County in NYPALC, said.
Cyclone Idai hit the southeast portion of Africa as a category 2 storm on March 15th. The city of Beira, a port city in Mozambique, faced the brunt of the storm and winds that hit 109 mph. 750 people were confirmed dead by the Mozambique authorities. Almost two weeks after the storm, the city has begun to recover.
“Many people are suffering and the imminent issues of water, food and general healthcare pose very real threats especially children,” Annmaree Jorge from the Life Church Mozambique, which has been working in South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe for 20 years, said. “The Portuguese community is very welcome to play a role in aid and rebuilding of this once influential city.”
Local high schools on Long Island are looking to support the cause. This campaign is pushing students to get the attention of their teachers and school officials to help the people in Mozambique.
“The minute we started talking to the young men and women of the community said let me talk to my teachers and see if I could help, so we will have some of the high schools who are starting to take a look at it,” Santos said.