Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Picture Is Worth More Than 1,000 Words

The internet gods are on my side today and decided to load photos quickly. So here are some long overdue pictures!

My "students" (aka neighborhood kids) learning to write the alphabet on my porch.

Showing off their muscles. 

Doing the limbo at our girls group event at the orphan center. 

One of my girls group members showing a girl how to sew her purse. 

Showing off the work they did. Nice purses! 

Another of my girls group members leading the kids in a game. And lookin' quite fashionable in their purses if I may say so myself.

The whole group at the event! 

The bairro (neighborhood). 

We went to an abandoned tea factory the other day. Here, we see nature completely destroying and taking over the building. 

Back in the big city of GuruĂ©: the bus that takes a 4 or 5 day trip from the north of Mozambique all the way to Maputo, the capital, way down south. I hope I never have to board it. 

The beautiful view of the sunset over the mountains from my house.

Monday, October 3, 2011

After randomly meeting some government officials that were visiting my old school, I was invited by the Ministry of Education to lead a training in the capital, Maputo, on a computer program that creates computerized school schedules. This will hopefully allow schools to start more on time at the beginning of the school year since they will not have to make the schedules by hand, eliminating many conflicts and expediting the process. Also, teachers will be able to have better, more convenient, less hectic schedules, hopefully encouraging a higher rate of teacher attendance. Overall, it was a 2-day workshop that I think will greatly help the schools and districts that had representatives present. Oh, and at one of the catered lunches, there was BROCCOLI (one of my favorite foods and one I have not had in over a year…)

I am currently attempting to teach some of the neighborhood kids, who should probably technically be in school but aren’t, to write their letters and am generally just allowing them to express themselves through art and drawing. But I am using cards that have pictures of words in English that begin with each letter. For example, “c” is for “cake,” but in Portuguese the word for cake does not start with a “c.” Inevitably, the kids were a little confused until I made my own, artist-impaired pictures and taped them on the cards. Also, the kids keep writing all the letters upside down or backwards, so if anyone has suggestions, I am all ears!

Yesterday, my two girls groups (about 15 girls in total) went to an orphan center as a community service project. It was a great day of theater pieces on childrens rights and not sleeping with teachers, teaching the kids to sew purses, games, and a panel with different women from the community who have different professions to answer questions the girls have if they want to have that profession in the future. My girls served as great role-models for the young girls and I think everyone had a great time. The only problem we encountered was when we were gearing up to get in the truck and head to the orphan center in the morning. Our battery was dead and wasn’t accepting a jump. So they jerry-rigged the car to start it and off we went. Without any actual battery inside the car that is. We did make it there without a problem, though, but then when we wanted to leave at the end of the day, we obviously couldn’t start the car because it was missing it’s battery. So someone jerry-rigged it again, and off we went. We had a great time in the bed of the truck toasting with the extra sodas, singing, etc. Until 1km from Invinha, when the truck died. So we schlepped all the pots, buckets, soda bottles, and other materials the 1km home. To most aptly capture the sentiment of the moment, I must quote my old roommate, Camille, “Nothing ever goes well in Mozambique, things just go better than expected…” By any American standards, the day did not go well, but it still exceeded the low expectations I have learned to apply to events here.

Amazingly, against all odds, the impossible happened last week:
I. Found. Strawberries. In. Gurué.
They were outrageously expensive for such a small quantity, but totally worth it. And the ensuing strawberry jam that I made serves a perfect compliment for our homemade peanut butter.

I also celebrated Rosh HaShana with a small sample of expensive apples, honey from the side of the road in Sofala province, and homemade challah. Yum.

I saw a semi-truck throw “use a condom” pamphlets out of their windows at gatherings of passersby on the road the other day and people absolutely flocked to see what “prize” they might be able to claim off the truck. It was one of the most effective and quick condoms campaigns I have seen here and I was very pleased to witness it.

The dry and windy season is in full swing here, though we are hopefully nearing the end. Because it is as dry and windy as hell. Literally. Red dust is everywhere, in ever crack and crevice of our house (even 2 minutes after we sweep), our clothes, and our food. And with the end of the dry season comes the burning season. People are burning their fields to plant again as the rainy season starts, which is not only horrendous for their soil (which is another story completely) but also adds a layer of smoke to the dust-filled air, creating a special mix of allergens just for me.

But as far as seasons go, we are nearing the end of cabbage and lettuce season. And, we are entering bean season. You can buy beans all year round but now is the time when they are the freshest because they are currently being harvested. So everywhere you turn, you can see people slashing big piles of bean-stalks with big sticks to more efficiently release the beans from their stalked captivity.

To celebrate my one-year anniversary of being in Mozambique, I have been trying to come to grips with how much I have adjusted to certain aspects of life. The bane of my existence during training was having to wash my shoes every week. But now I can see how much more legitimate of a person I become when my shoes are not covered in red dust (mostly because I outsource this particular task to my cleaning, water-fetching kid). Who knows what the next year will bring.
And last, I got a ride home in an ambulance the other day. Only in Mozambique.

Side-note: I just tried unsuccessfully to load photos for an hour and a half. Will do so when I get better internet.