My school puts out a monthly school newspaper as part of a Peace Corps program called JOMA, (JOvens para MudançA- young people for change). For the past few years, the volunteer in Gurué has worked in conjunction with a Mozambican counterpart to teach the students about journalism and give them the opportunity to publish their work and show it off at specified distribution spots around town. Since the computers in the school’s computer lab have not been working, we have just started up for the year in the past few weeks with the few computers that are in fact functioning. This past week we had planned a day for the kids to type up their first articles, so I show up at the specified date and time to open the lab and help the students. We had a surprising number turn out, all super excited to get the JOMA year underway. But as luck would have it, the school didn’t have any energy. No, there wasn’t a power outage, it’s just that no one at the school had bought any recently (since electricity here is pay as you go), so we couldn’t use the computers. We came back later in the day, still no energy. And again on Monday morning and afternoon, it was still out. Typical.
Similarly, I had my first REDES meeting last week and had 17 girls show up! But, I am unsure how it went, on account of my Portuguese, the cultural differences in how I am accustomed to running a meeting, and the general inclination for girls to be passive here. My second meeting had four girls, none of which repeating from the week before, and we had a great time playing random games and doing get to know you activities. I’m not sure how much my negligible return rate had to do with failing at my first meeting or just the girls being busy the next time, or simply just forgetting. But as long as I have at least a few people each week, I am happy, as I am still figuring out how I can best integrate and utilize this new program in my site.
The health volunteer at my site has been working towards starting these two afterschool program centers for orphans. Yesterday was the opening ceremony for the centers and I went to help out. Not only was I super excited that her counterpart had given me an official shirt for their organization to wear (it is super stylish here to wear badly screen-printed org shirts), but I was also going to be able to play with a bunch of cute kids. And it didn’t disappoint. The kids were awesome and I got to help them with their nametags and check them in. Then, I was sent on a mission to pick up the snacks and cake. The hired driver for the day took me on errands around town to pick up all the stuff, and just as I was thinking how great it was to actually run errands in a car, we got a flat tire. Again, typical. But the event went off mostly without a hitch and I got to take photographs of all the presentations (because no Mozambican event is complete without seeming hours of slowly reported speeches thanking every person even remotely involved. Twice.) and the songs and dances performed by the kids. Overall, a very exciting and adorable day.
The students have first trimester finals this coming week, which essentially means a lot of proctoring tests in classrooms with three students squished to a desk, failing to curb the rampant cheating. But I did my best to limit the cheating on my test by spending my own money to print three different versions and making it a little too hard to compensate for the inevitable wandering eyes and cheat-sheets.
Mozambicans will often buy clothes and sport them proudly without realizing that it is a woman’s pair of jeans and they are a man. Or that their shirt is a Seattle Mariner’s jersey and they have no idea who that is, or that their shirt is from some random American fundraiser or organization they have never heard of or can’t even read because it’s in English, or one of my personal favorites, as a teenage boy often sports around here, that they are wearing a shirt that says, “Cheerleader Mom.” But the best of the best random, out of place article of clothing that I have seen in Moz was a guy whipping past me on a motorcycle the other day in a graduation cap. Sweet.
In other news, food news that is, peanut season has officially commenced, meaning the streets are littered with boiled peanut vendors. Having never before tried a non-roasted peanut, I was at first a little thrown off, but am now absolutely addicted.
Also, I bought a coconut today to make some coconut milk and proceeded to drop it immediately after I paid the lady for it. As luck would have it, it split open and started leaking the coconut water stuff everywhere. Now, I probably could have traded it in for another one but I was unsure what was appropriate, Mozambican market etiquette in this scenario was, so, I pretended nothing happened (though the white girl covered in coconut milk was clearly a spectacle for everyone around to watch interestedly and shout things in Lomwe) and continued on my way home, leaving a trail of liquid the whole way. I had no less than 8 random Mozambicans between the market and my house ask me why I had purchased an already open coconut. Awesome. And then later, I was sitting on my porch, ralar-ing the coconut (using the Mozambican contraction that is specially designed for the one job of grating coconut) when one of my students walked by since apparently she lives in the neighborhood behind my house. And after she laughed at me for how slowly I was ralar-ing, she offered to help and finished the job in about one-tenth the time it would have taken me. Just another reason why Mozambican women are my heroes.
Speaking of which, Mozambican Women’s Day is Thursday, April 7, so I am looking forward to putting together some sort of REDES program that day and potentially playing in an all woman’s soccer game to celebrate.