Martha Luiz a young Mozambican. Photo: WYD

Martha, the Young African Girl Who Gave Her Testimony Before the Pope: She Fled Her Village Because of Terrorism, but Has Kept Her Faith

Martha, the 18-year old Mozambican girl, who gave her testimony in the World Youth Day

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(ZENIT News / Lisbon, 09.08.2023).- One of the public testimonies that most moved the participants in Lisbon’s World Youth Day was that of Martha Luiz, a young Mozambican who, together with her family, had suffered persecution and had to flee from her village. In addition to experiencing the murder of her father, Martha fled with her mother and siblings to save their lives. She gave her testimony on Saturday afternoon, August 5, before the Pope and one and a half million young people, in the context of the Vigil. 

Here is Martha’s testimony in English.

* * *

My name is Martha, I’m 18. I come from Mozambique, from the Cabo Delgado province, where we are facing a war that has already lasted five years. I belong to the Muidumbe district, in a region called Planalto do Povo Maconde. I attend the parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, also known as the Nangololo Mission. I come from a simple and poor family. I lost my father very soon, I was only seven years old. After my father’s death, my mother and her four daughters continued his mission. I studied in the community’s school and took part in parish life, where I was an altar server and also attended Confirmation meetings. 

In the northern region, where we lived, we heard talk of terrorist attacks in other places close to our district, but we never imagined that we would also be attacked. 

On the morning of April 7, 2021, the terrorists attacked our village. We fled, with all our family, to the forest. We hid there for four days. When we learned that the terrorists had left, we returned home. We spent the days at home and, at night, out of fear, we went back to the forest to sleep. We prayed a lot, asking God to free us from all evil and to give us the strength to overcome that difficult moment. We couldn’t sleep the whole night, but we prayed the Hail Mary and the Our Father, asking the Lord not to permit the worst to happen in people’s homes. After the April attack, we continued our life in the village, but on October 31, 2021, the terrorists attacked again.  This attack was very violent. We fled again to the forest. We walked for a long time, not knowing what to do. We had no food or water. We were very hungry. The terrorists found us in the forest and shot in the air. They didn’t wound our family, but we were very scared and fled. 

With much difficulty we were able to arrive in the province of Nampula, where some relatives received us. We prayed a lot when we were in the jungle. At no time did we lose our faith. I asked God to help us and to take away all the evil in the world and that the people who were causing this war change their life. The people of our villages are very dispersed. We were well received in the parishes where we went to live, but we missed our village and our customs, songs and dances. But in the midst of so much suffering, we never lost the faith and the hope that one day we would rebuild our lives again. 


Translation of the Portuguese original by ZENIT’s Editorial Director, and into English, by Virginia M. Forrester

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