A few minutes after 8 a.m., Rome time, Wednesday morning, Pope Francis was heading to Africa for the fourth time in his pontificate.
Ten hours later, he reached his first destination: Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.
At the foot of the stairs, he was received by the president of the country. Later, Pope Francis greeted the other authorities who came to receive him one-by-one. They all treated him with the highest honors.
While still at the airport, these energetic traditional dances were dedicated to him.
Mozambique receives Pope Francis' visit with enormous hope. The country has suffered a series of natural catastrophes that have deeply affected the population. The center and north continue to face the dramatic consequences of two cyclones, Idai and Kenneth, which caused hundreds of fatalities and substantial material losses a few months ago. Paradoxically in the south, drought now wreaks havoc.
Mozambique has about 29 million inhabitants. Eight out of 10 live in poverty, on less than two dollars a day.
It is also one of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa that has suffered the most from the consequences of AIDS. HIV infects 23 percent of the inhabitants of the capital, Maputo.
The Mozambicans also suffered a bloody civil war for 15 years that left at least one million dead. In August of this year, a peace agreement was signed between the two opposing factions, hoping to put an end to the conflict.