Ikhale!

Greetings from Mozambique! Where I’ve been for about the past almost four months! I made a few video blog entries that are on my flicker page, but after my camera died week 5 into my service here, I gave that up. =( Internet has also been a lot more spotty than I would imagine, but then again my site placement and job are also a lot different than what they were in Mauritania. Let me start from square one.

After being told I would not be able to return to Mauritania after being at home for vacation, I worked my little butt off to get myself back into some other country to serve, since I had essentially been displaced from everything I was expecting within the upcoming year, and dumped in the American unemployed pool. Knowing that this climate in American right now is still not so favorable to those searching for jobs, I figured my best bet was to continue on with Peace Corps if possible. I also wasn’t ready yet to be living back in those United States of America. So, after much ado, Peace Corps informed me five days before my departure, before I even knew I was going to actually continue with Peace Corps, that I would be going to the tropical southern African country of Mozambique.

A little bit about Mozambique: Mozambique is about the size of two Californias stacked ontop of eachother. Yup, that means a lot a lot of beach. Population 20 million. RIM(Mauritania) had 3 million.

My Site: Carapira, Monapo District, Nampula Province. I’m way up in Northern Mozambique, about 3 days overland travel from the capitol Maputo. The site is a new site, and I’m serving there alone, so I’ll be the very first volunteer to interact with the people. They speak Makua and Portuguese. It’s been kind of a drag that I didn’t get local language training, during Pre-Service Training, like I did in Mauritania, because now, I feel pretty out of the loop most of the time around my village. I’ve gotten the basic greetings down, vakani vakani, little by little, but those Portuguese did a pretty good job, because most everyone speaks Portuguese, when they aren’t speaking Makua. In terms of appearance, the site is Gorgeous. It’s greeeeeeennnn. It’s tiny, about 2,000 people. It’s right on the main road from Nampula City to the Ilhe (island) of Mozambique, and you can spot where it is, but looking down the main big road that you turn left onto from the main road. At the end of this main dirt road, there is a massive church with towers and bells. The people here for the most part are all really friendly. The all have a cheery sentiment to them, laughing when I take water from the well and try to cart it home on my head, because as I walk, I’m pretty much showering simultaneously, loving hearing me attempt to speak Makua, helping me with whatever I need around my house, sharing food, explaining to me how to cook the beans that they grow here. Most of them couldn’t believe that I wasn’t going to hire an empregada to help me with cooking and cleaning, especially since I am a teacher. I’ll admit, my neighbor Hericulano brings me water and sweeps the dirt (I guess that’s a thing common to Africa) around my house every morning.

My Job: English Teacher. Yah, to be honest, I’m not crazily excited about this placement, and if it weren’t for the fact that Mozambique has English speaking neighbors in every direction, I probably would feel a tiny bit imperialistic. However, it’s a whole nother thing to finally explain to those eager excited students that the pimps just want to slap the hoes in all those rap songs they yearn to know the meanings of. I’ve never formally been a teacher aside from the arts bridge stint I did my senior year at UCI in which I taught art and academics combined to second graders. I have 6 classes here. Two of eighth, ninth, and tenth grade each. For the most part the students are thrilled to have an “American” teacher, teaching them English. I’m a bit of a novelty to them.

My School: Some volunteers like to call it Hogwarts, some like to call it Mini Portugal/Italy. It’s an industrial missionary school, founded by Italian Combonian missionaries (although it’s a governmental public school now (most schools in Mozambique were started by missionaries, that’s why so many people can only write in Portuguese, as opposed to in one of about 45 local languages they speak here)). The school only has 132 students this year, which is TINY, and all students live at the school. Most of my fellow volunteer friends have to teach to classes of about 60-80. I heard of one school director even bragging that one of the turmas(classes) at his school  had 125 students…. My largest turma is 30, and my smallest is 16. No complaints here. So the school is divided into serralharia mecanica and auto mecanica. The latter includes carpentry, welding, lumbering, and more. And the former, well, everything to do with cars basically. I believe it’s mainly fixing and maintaining cars though, I don’t foresee Mozambique busting out with a car industry anytime soon. The school is beautiful…..

They also have 22 hectares of machamba land, aka, fields in which they grow agriculture. I mean I even got a brochure in my site placement packet for my school. This school is no joke.

My House: So this is the first time in my LIFE I’ll be living alone. Not only living alone, but I have a whole house to myself,(if I don’t count the one week, my last week spent in Mauritania)! It may be the size of a Polly Pocket house, but, regardless, it’s still all to me. It’s just a square house, with 4 rooms, cement walls and a metal roof. Since houses like these share many similarities to ovens, I had an outdoor gazebo made out of hay and bamboo. It’s perfect during the midday since the sun is really what is so damn hot in Nampula Province. I didn’t have a fence built around it like PC said they would give me money for because I’m a bit of someone who doesn’t love a wall. I don’t have any chickens or cows, and when it comes down to it, I feel safer not having one because then my neighbors and I are in the same space, and they are more likely to watch out for me than rob anything from me. Plus, this way everyone in the neighbor who always passes by me can say hi and come and talk to me. I’ve kind of gone to town on decorating the inside by painting any piece of cardboard I can get a hold of and nailing these pictures to my walls. I also just planted sunflowers outside. One great thing about teaching at a school that has a carpentry department, I can get wood for free! So so far I’ve made shelves, a counter, and benches to make living inside a little more comfy. It’s quite the step up (literally!) from all the on the floor living done in my previous term. =D

All in all, Carapira is panning out to be quite a nice compensation for my abrupt leave from Mauritania. As for Mauritania, and the GMC there, Zeinabou, my former counterpart still calls me, Africa to Africa. She said that the Girl’s Mentoring Center we worked together to run is still up and going, and more successful than ever! She said lots of teachers are helping. The local officials are working with her to figure out ways to bring funding in for programs. She even made a film about what the Aleg GMC is doing specifically. I just gotta say knowing that a project like a GMC that you helped work to develop, is succeeding and sustaining with your absence, has got to be one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve had in my entire life.

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3 Responses to “Ikhale!”

  1. Brandon Says:

    The death of your camera might be due to a little thing called Karma.

  2. julie ann Says:

    dude, sounds so awesome. good for you!! especially that great news about the aleg GMC =)

  3. americaninparis42 Says:

    Glad to see you writing again 🙂

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