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Lígia Arcângela Lubrino Dias Fonseca was born in Beira, on August 24, 1963. [Photo: Providence Journal]
About €20,000 euros has so far been raised by a Cape Verdean campaign to help rebuild Mozambique after Cyclone Idai, Cape Verdean First Lady Ligia Fonseca said on Saturday in the United States.
The money raised by the “Beira No Coração” campaign will be fully allocated to a reconstruction project in Mozambique to be announced later this year, Lígia Fonseca said on Saturday night in Westport, Massachusetts, at a fundraising dinner for the city, one of the hardest hit by Cyclone Idai on March 14 this year.
The gala dinner was attended by over 250 people, including the ambassadors of Cape Verde and Mozambique in the United States, Carlos Veiga and Carlos dos Santos, respectively, and the permanent representative of Cape Verde to the United Nations, José Luís Rocha.
Lígia Dias Fonseca, born in Mozambique and a lawyer by profession, has been spearheading the “Beira No Coração” fundraising campaign for nearly ten months. The campaign, which ends this month, started in Cape Verde, and has passed through Italy and the United States.
“The aid we collect will go to a project essentially linked to children, which we will announce soon,” Ligia Fonseca said.
“We will present the fund accounts the end of the campaign, later this month, so that everyone knows that their help has reached those selected, and we will always be happy to tell you where these funds were spent,” she added.
One of the possibilities mooted is to join forces with another association and “get into a bigger project”, but the first guarantee is that “not one cent of these funds will be diverted or not effectively applied in Mozambique”, Cape Verde’s First Lady assured her audience.
“In the past months, we have raised about €20,000. It’s not a lot of money, but I am absolutely sure it will make a lot of difference to some people’s lives,” Lígia Fonseca told Lusa.
The campaign has raised only cash, and has not accepted material donations, because “there is little possibility” of delivering them effectively. “We refuse to receive anything that we cannot bring to its proper recipient,” Ligia Fonseca said.
The Cape Verdean First Lady recalled how seeing the images of the destruction caused and the victims trying to protect themselves or sheltering in trees “was terrible for anyone”.
“For me,” she added, “seeing the land, the city where I was born, completely flooded, trying to find out about the neighbourhood where I lived, and being unable to find it because everything was destroyed, was a very difficult time.”
The Mozambican ambassador to the United States, Carlos dos Santos, declared he had “a feeling of deep regard for the Cape Verde First Lady and the Cape Verdeans.”
“What happens is that there is always a generous response from the international community immediately after the disaster. But after a while, we think of other disasters, other causes, and forget that we have not yet been able to help all those who need our help, where the tragedy struck,” Carlos dos Santos said.
The campaign was supported by individual donors, Cape Verdean-based associations and Cape Verdean communities in the diaspora, who conducted fundraising activities, the First Lady said.
The United States event took place on the initiative of businesswoman Alzerina Gomes, one of the many people who joined the movement, and featured performances by Cape Verdean musicians Assol Garcia, Candida Rose, Denis Mota, Desiree Fernandes, Maria de Barros and Roy Job .
“We must still help Mozambique. The country’s reconstruction process still requires our attention, our solidarity, ” Lígia Fonseca said in Westport, Massachusetts, on Saturday.
Cyclone Idai, which hit central Mozambique in March, killed 604 people and affected about 1.5 million people. The storm caused severe flooding which swamped entire villages, bridges, roads and other infrastructure, creating gigantic lakes which took weeks to disappear.
Shortly afterwards, the country was hit by Cyclone Kenneth, which struck the north of the country, killing 45 people and affecting about 250,000.