By Helena Brecht
With five working days complete, what have we been up to in Mozambique?
The week started with the group out on the farm in Dondo, watering tomato and bean plants, as well as planting lettuce for the drip irrigation that was put in recently. We were working side by side with local prisoners, who, being on good behaviour and close to their release, are part of a joint initiative with Young Africa. They provide the labour to toil the fields while Young Africa teaches them sustainable farming techniques. The idea is that that they can implement their newly learnt skills back in their own communities upon release. Young Africa also provides them with a small wage that is split between the prison and the prisoners. In this way, the project is providing these men with an opportunity that encourages them to make positive contributions to society once they return back home. We were more than impressed by the initiative, which has everyone involved benefitting. It really is a fantastic idea, and that we got to see it working so well in action made it even better! After lunch, we witnessed the graduation of the third set of students from Young Africa Dondo. This ceremony included a great deal of singing and dancing and clapping and a lot of time spent posing and taking pictures. We left the campus excited that we would be spending more time here as the weeks go on.
The rest of the week we spent back in Beira. We worked with the students from the construction studies department from Young Africa to build a kitchen for the crèche. This had us mixing concrete, making bricks, cutting down trees with a machete, building walls, and finally, plastering our building. The lack of tools made the work a little frustrating at the start, but by the end of the week we had organised ourselves in such a way that everyone was able to do something productive. It was fantastic to be able to learn from and work with Young Africa students. With a load of hand gestures, as well as some singing, and dancing the Wiener Waltz in exchange for lessons of the Mozambican equivalent (dance romantico), we managed to bridge the language barrier relatively successfully, and had a great time getting to know Jus, Was, and Ines, as well as their teacher Gilda.
The head of the crèche, Anita, is another woman we have got to know better throughout the week. She would join us on the building site to do a quick five minutes of plastering or help us chop down trees whenever she had a spare minute or the children had gone home at the end of the day. Always busy and always moving, she is quite unlike the stereotypically slow way life moves in Mozambique.
The evenings have remained busy as well: between playing with the local children, washing clothes, development education, and exploring the local market. We have also had Dorien, the founder of Young Africa, take us for a development education session, presenting us with information about the organisation. It was incredibly interesting and thought provoking, and she left us inspired with how Young Africa views development.
Encouraged and motivated by the people we have been spending time with and the Young Africa campuses that we are getting to experience, we have had a great week. The kitchen is now nearly complete, and we are already planning the English lessons for the Young
Africa teachers in Dondo for the upcoming days. We will keep you posted!